Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

When Putin met Reagan

with 79 comments

In May 1988, President Ronald Reagan travelled to Moscow for his 4th summit with Mikhail Gorbachev. The Soviets prepared a grand welcome; buildings across from the Kremlin were repainted, streets repaved and trees and flowers planted along the boulevards. The president’s schedule included attending the Bolshoi Ballet, speaking to students at Moscow’s State University and visiting Danilov Monastery, while First Lady would tour Leningrad.

The visit was not without its own share of diplomatic incidents. The First Couple took an unscheduled walk through the Arbat, a Moscow shopping pedestrian street, when security police rushed in and roughed up a throng of onlookers, including children. “It’s still a police state,” Reagan was heard to say. When the president’s advance team asked the Russian Orthodox Church to pave the way to the Danilov Monastery so that the president could arrive in the limousine, a clergyman retorted that “One does not ride to see God. One walks either upon his feet or upon his knees.” Because he wore no ID badge, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater was pursued by security personnel on his way to a Kremlin dinner. The president dozed off during the performance at the Bolshoi and Secretary Gorbachev had to wake him with a tap on the shoulder as the curtains were coming down.

The most telling incident was only revealed 20 years later. In the above photo, the man with the camera around his neck standing behind the boy was the current Russian Prime Minister (and former president) Vladimir Putin. He was pretending to be a tourist on his capacity as a KGB agent. On that day, on the Red Square, Gorbachev introduced Reagan to various tourists, who asked the American president pointed questions about subjects such as human rights in the United States. The photographer of this picture, Pete Souza, turned to the Secret Service and commented, “I can’t believe these tourists in the Soviet Union are asking these pointed questions.” The agent replied, “Oh, these are all KGB families.”

Pete Souza is the official chief White House photographer for Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama administrations. The Kremlin, however, had denied that it was Putin.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

December 7, 2009 at 7:04 pm

79 Responses

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  1. [...] When Putin met Reagan « Iconic Photos. [...]

    • its not putin

      aga

      March 7, 2014 at 8:36 am

      • The little guy will be the next president.

        Espen

        March 8, 2014 at 9:34 pm

  2. it is indeed a rare and iconic image.

    Deepak Acharya

    December 8, 2009 at 4:35 am

  3. It’s not Putin

    CaypoH

    December 8, 2009 at 5:08 am

    • I agree. I think the nose is too long.

      Zip

      December 8, 2009 at 6:23 am

    • Putin is better looking than that guy.

      Ralph

      February 3, 2011 at 9:48 am

  4. Putin was in DDR in 1988

    vassily

    December 8, 2009 at 9:47 am

  5. [...] 原文及版权http://iconicphotos.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/when-putin-met-reagan/ [...]

  6. [...] When Putin met Reagan In May 1988, President Ronald Reagan travelled to Moscow for his 4th summit with Mikhail Gorbachev. The Soviets [...] [...]

  7. hmm… yea, looking at a picture of Putin’s profile in Google images, the nose in this picture does look a bit too long and pointy and the earlobe looks a bit longer too…. who knows! interesting story nonetheless!

    jenn

    December 9, 2009 at 12:18 am

    • That is Nitup, Putin’s non-evil twin.

      Ralph

      February 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

    • possibly putin in his capacity as a kgb agent had to undergo face-changing plastic surgeries quite a few times since this pic was taken ;)

      wanderlust

      July 31, 2011 at 6:07 am

    • The photo appears to be taken with a wide-angle lens, typical when taking photos meant to include as much surrounding context as possible, which would tend to distort the perspective at the edges. Putin’s whole head actually appears to be slightly elongated. That’s not proof, but check this out:

      http://www.celebrityschoolpics.com/celebrity/000008/vladimir-putin/

      jcarls

      March 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

  8. [...] KGB Agent Vladimir Putin pretending to be a tourist in order to meet [...]

  9. Putin was born 7 October 1952. In the 1988 he has at least 36 years. This is fake.

    Serge

    December 9, 2009 at 10:13 am

  10. seems that this little boy is Medvyedyev?

    m

    December 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm

  11. [...] Unidos, como percebeu Pete Souza, o fotógrafo que registrou a imagem acima, pinçada pelo blog Iconic Photos. Ao comentar isso com um agente que os acompanhava, este revelou que aquelas pessoas “eram [...]

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    ReloFreetlE

    December 11, 2009 at 5:54 am

  13. Only Reagan’s tie isn’t from KGB on this image although it looks like made 60% from microfiber and 40% from microfilm

    Bulgarian boy

    December 11, 2009 at 6:59 am

  14. Some People Confused, Admin not talking about Boy,its a man behing him having Camera aroung his neck.But it doubtful that Man is Putin.Celebrities | Nature

    Sunl

    December 13, 2009 at 2:39 am

  15. I don’t think that’s Putin. I’ve seen a lot of photos and video of Putin, and this man looks quite different. There’s a photo here of what Putin looked like in the ’80s: http://bit.ly/8tcQAf. Also, I believe Putin is shorter than the man pictured here.

    Todd

    December 15, 2009 at 1:32 pm

  16. [...] Photos: When Putin met Reagan (December 7, [...]

  17. [...] Quintessential on Iconic Photos When Putin Met Reagan “In the above photo, the man with the camera around his neck standing behind the boy was the [...]

  18. I think the little boy in the picture is from KGB, too. Look his hand. Is not a normal hand…

    RFF

    February 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm

  19. I doubt that is Putin. Putin has a short chin and his nose is not sharp and has more of a swoop or a deeper bridge. This picture is of a younger vladimir and his hairline is still weak, and the hair is thin. The man in the picture you have has thick hair.

    http://blog.pkp.in/2008/02/young-vladimir-putin-pictures.html

    KMansfield

    May 9, 2010 at 3:52 am

    • Thanks for those photos, though they are a bit scary. Somehow his expression kinda reminds me of Tom Riddle!

      Gordon Ingram

      March 6, 2014 at 9:18 pm

  20. Please, correct or remove this article, as this is definitely not V. Putin, who as it had already been said, had been stationed in Germany up until the fall of the Soviet Union, and doesn’t even remotely resemble current Russian PM.

    Though even if true, this wouldn’t be much of a sensation, still, story title looks like it would suit a supermarket tabloid, not a website dedicated to iconic photos.

    I originally loved your blog, but once I found this controversial entry, I started questioning your commentaries to all the other images. Perhaps they’re as wrong as this one.

    sp

    July 27, 2010 at 10:06 am

  21. life is changing

    amarat

    February 3, 2011 at 3:03 pm

  22. WYKOP KURWA

    m__b

    February 3, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  23. Why are all these people claiming to know exactly what Putin looked like and where he was on that day, at this time?

    ruth b

    February 4, 2011 at 10:05 pm

  24. [...] were mostly KGB agents posing as tourists.The man with the camera around his neck is Vladimir Putin.From Iconic Photos.Related postsVladimir Putin to teach Nicolas Sarkozy JudoPutin puts out firesDid Reagan Try to [...]

  25. [...] When Putin met Reagan В« Iconic Photos Dec 7, 2009 … In May 1988, President Ronald Reagan travelled to …. seems that this little boy is Medvyedyev? … [...]

  26. Thumbs up if you thought the boy was Putin, until you read the entire text.

  27. Putin stole $30 billion from Russia and has sex with fish. LOOK IT UP.

    fubo

    August 9, 2012 at 5:00 am

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  29. It is not Putin

    Robin Hud

    July 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm

  30. It is not Putin but the guy looks like Sergey Ivanov, chief of staff of Putin.

    audjournalismstudents

    March 5, 2014 at 10:19 am

  31. He has only two daughters….
    .

    jeroen

    March 5, 2014 at 11:55 am

  32. […] (H/T IconicPhotos.wordpress.com) […]

  33. […] (H/T IconicPhotos.wordpress.com) […]

  34. The corner distortion of the lens makes the head of the man in question stretch out thus causing his nose to appear to be longer than it really is.

    Marshall Hart

    March 5, 2014 at 9:13 pm

  35. […] a tourist: future Russian president Vladimir Putin (pictured above with a camera around his neck). Iconic Photos (via Tabitha Hale of Rare) has the backstory for the photo: In May 1988, President Ronald Reagan […]

  36. Reblogged this on YouViewed/Editorial.

    johngalt

    March 6, 2014 at 2:56 am

  37. where is the shadow of the photographer? He had the sun in his back.

    tomelst

    March 6, 2014 at 6:35 am

  38. […] Iconic Photos (via Tabitha Hale of Rare) has the backstory for the photo: […]

  39. In this picture Putin is supposed to be taller than Gorbachev and almost as tall as Reagan. Oh really, try and pull the other one!

    Bart van mierlo

    March 6, 2014 at 11:50 am

  40. And Medvedev far back with sunnies on :)

    al

    March 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

  41. This photo is fake… The little boy can’t be Putin

    Alvin Lee

    March 6, 2014 at 3:04 pm

  42. […] IconicPhotos h/t Kathy Shaidle] Tags:  Ronald Reagan Vladimir Putin addthis.layers({ 'theme' : […]

  43. Its not Putin. Photo of Putin from the same angle. 3 years later (1991) in Prague. He looks very different: http://blog.idnes.cz/blog/17497/285450/FO00181209.jpg

    Petr Horcicka

    March 6, 2014 at 7:31 pm

  44. Judging by the photo in the link below of Putin circa 1980, the guy pictured with Reagan is not him. Putin had a severely receding hairline in the 1980 photo — eight years before the Regan picture, which captured a guy with a full head of hair.

    JordanK

    March 6, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    • I’m pretty sure the Soviets had toupee technology by 1988. Wearing a hairpiece is a common basic disguise.

      Cain Doggett

      March 7, 2014 at 1:41 am

  45. Reblogged this on GooseRadio and commented:
    History really does have a sense of humor. Of course Vlad the Impaler met the Gipper in Red Square. Why wouldn’t he have?

    goosemoosely

    March 8, 2014 at 3:44 am

  46. Putin is the load his mom should have swallowed.

    Shou Lee

    March 8, 2014 at 5:18 am

  47. The facial structure is wrong. The person in the photo has a placement that is back on his heels like most people, Putin has a placement that is forward of center as is common among martial artists and dancers. The person in the photo is 178 to 182 centimeters tall, Putin is 170 centimeters, Reagan was 185 centimeters. Clearly, its not Putin!

    Vincenzo La Chimera

    March 9, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    • The man is also clearly at least 5 centimeters taller than Gorbachev who is 175 centimeters, again, Putin is 170 centimeters, 5 foot 7 inches.

      Vincenzo La Chimera

      March 9, 2014 at 11:36 pm

  48. […] is Putin. When Putin met Reagan | Iconic Photos "In May 1988, President Ronald Reagan travelled to Moscow for his 4th summit with Mikhail […]

  49. […] of new treaties. But it gave Reagan the chance to speak directly to the Soviet people (including this very familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in the United States were unhappy that Reagan was rewarding the […]

  50. […] of new treaties. But it gave Reagan the chance to speak directly to the Soviet people (including this very familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in the United States were unhappy that Reagan was rewarding the […]

  51. […] of new treaties. But it gave Reagan the chance to speak directly to the Soviet people (including this very familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in the United States were unhappy that Reagan was rewarding the […]

  52. […] of new treaties. But it gave Reagan the chance to speak directly to the Soviet people (including this very familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in the United States were unhappy that Reagan was rewarding the […]

  53. […] of new treaties. But it gave Reagan the chance to speak directly to the Soviet people (including this very familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in the United States were unhappy that Reagan was rewarding the […]

  54. […] new treaties. But it gave Reagan a possibility to pronounce directly to a Soviet people (including this unequivocally familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in a United States were unfortunate that Reagan was rewarding a […]

  55. […] new treaties. But it gave Reagan a possibility to pronounce directly to a Soviet people (including this unequivocally familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in a United States were unfortunate that Reagan was rewarding a […]

  56. […] new treaties. But it gave Reagan a possibility to pronounce directly to a Soviet people (including this unequivocally familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in a United States were unfortunate that Reagan was rewarding a […]

  57. […] of new treaties. But it gave Reagan the chance to speak directly to the Soviet people (including this very familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in the United States were unhappy that Reagan was rewarding the […]

  58. […] new treaties. But it gave Reagan a possibility to pronounce directly to a Soviet people (including this unequivocally familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in a United States were unfortunate that Reagan was rewarding a […]

  59. […] of new treaties. But it gave Reagan the chance to speak directly to the Soviet people (including this very familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in the United States were unhappy that Reagan was rewarding the […]

  60. […] new treaties. But it gave Reagan a possibility to pronounce directly to a Soviet people (including this unequivocally familiar-looking “tourist” in Red Square.) While hardliners in a United States were unfortunate that Reagan was rewarding a […]


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