It’s a far cry from his topless macho look: Awkward-looking Putin wears a suit and blue Adidas sweatpants in a newly discovered video from a trip to Finland in the 1990s, when the future Russian despot was an advisor of the mayor of the local town.
Video footage has emerged showing an awkward-looking Putin, dressed in blue Adidas overalls and track pants, during a visit to Finland in the early 1990s.
Far from his macho topless horseback look, the Russian despot can be seen sporting long, shaggy hair and wearing a casual purple and green tracksuit.
The video, obtained by the Finnish channel YLEwas filmed at a time when Putin was around 40 years old and his political figure was rapidly becoming more popular.
In 1991, Leningrad was renamed Saint Petersburg. Putin became the right-hand man of Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who appointed him head of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Today, Putin remains fiercely private, with only certain images and videos publicly available, in which he appears stiff and incredibly serious.
In the early 1990s, video footage was released showing an awkward-looking Putin, wearing a suit and long, unkempt hair.
In the footage, a subdued Putin eats at the table, dressed in a shell suit.
Putin pictured riding a horse in the Tuva region of southern Siberia, Russia, August 3, 2009.
Instead, the rare footage even shows him smiling as he plays a ping-pong match with Sobchak and the mayor’s bodyguards dressed in a cozy white vest and sweatpants.
The group resided on the island of Torsö in Raseborg, about 100 km from Helsinki, in a villa owned by the Finnish trading company Thomesto, which imported wood from Russia at the time, according to the channel.
Another clip shows Putin sitting at a table with around ten people having a meal. He appears subdued as he snacks while host Sobchak cuts meat at the end of the table.
Putin then makes a joke about the market economy, introduced in Russia after the collapse of communism.
In other clips, the group can be seen fishing. with Putin sitting quietly in a small motorboat wearing an orange raincoat.
According to the channel, Putin – now a powerful dictator who launched a barbaric invasion of Ukraine – had remained very silent during the trip, and a source pointed out how little power he had at the time of filming, saying that he was far from the macho image he has now created for himself.
The images show a Putin far removed from the stiff, serious-looking one the public sees today.
Putin carries a hunting rifle during his trip to Ubsunur Hollow in Siberia’s Tyva region, October 30, 2010.
The Russian despot has dominated Russia for nearly 23 years, since he was chosen by President Boris Yeltsin as his preferred successor in a surprise announcement on New Year’s Eve 1999.
Since then, Putin has been either president or prime minister of Russia. He met with all kinds of world leaders and carefully maintained his strongman image.
To play in his home base, he often posed performing adventurous stunts – including riding horses shirtless, shooting guns at shooting ranges, playing ice hockey or even exploring the depths of the ‘ocean.
But although he tried to show his funny side, he also led Russia into isolation with his aggression. He has been involved in several conflicts – from Georgia to Syria to Ukraine – and is alleged to have ordered numerous criminal acts on foreign soil – such as political assassinations – while suppressing domestic dissent.