Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has hired a woman named Yana Lapikova as a personal photographer. She'll photograph Putin as he goes about his job, doing a little shirtless horseback riding, making his country safe for tigers and very, very unsafe for Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Lapikova's appointment has raised some eyebrows because she is a former lingerie model and runner-up Miss Moscow. That "is not a crime," points out Putin's press secretary, tersely. And, you know, it's not! And modeling — like stripping, sex work, or almost any kind of job that a woman does with her body — is definitely one of those positions that tends to have a long half-life on a résumé, and in the public imagination. Whenever a lady somewhere who once had her picture taken for a living decides to do something else with her life, the snickering starts. Snicker, news media, snicker. (Okay, I'm snickering, too, but mostly at those acrylic nails, because damn.)
The real problem with Lapikova's appointment isn't her former career, it's Putin's nepotism. Judging by her online photography portfolios, it's clear that Lapikova was not hired on merit. (This photo is titled, "Fruit Composition — East.")
Putin — like Silvio Berlusconi, who has stocked the Italian parliament with former models and women who worked as showgirls on the television networks he owns — has a thing for promoting young, conventionally attractive women with no discernable qualifications to sensitive political positions. (Sometimes, also like Berlusconi, he does this for ladies he's rumored to be sleeping with.) Back in 2008, the tabloid In/Out reported:
Putin saw the Russian party system as an aging beast and, in order to spice things up, he decided that a little innovation was required. So what does he do? He pimps out the State Duma, Russia's lower parliament with young, beautiful women that look good in photos. Some have other talents too, like the lovely miss Kabaeva who is an accomplished gymnast, but most are there for show.
Young and ambitious, but most of all drop-dead gorgeous, these girls who were named "Putinskie Krasotki" or, in plain English, "Putin's babes" were supposed to bring a breath of fresh air in the aging ranks of the party. And that they did, considering the party took 60% of votes in the December elections. And his merits were recently rewarded when he was, just days ago, named chairman of the United Russia party, a very nice position to have, considering the party holds the majority of votes.
The recipients of Putin's patronage include former rhythmic gymnasts Alina Kabayeva (the aforementioned rumored mistress) and Svetlana Khorkina, boxer Natalia Karpovich, former ice-skater Svetlana Zhurova, and ballerina Svetlana Zakharova. They vote for Putin's agenda and Putin (and his party) gets to bask in the associative glamour of their looks and youth. Personal photographer for the president isn't exactly a position of great power. But why is it one that should go under any circumstances, to someone who thinks it's cool to take abstracted, out-of-focus shots of rain-streaked windowpanes?
Not to mention, these are some of the worst pictures of cats I have ever seen.
This one is titled, at least in my mind, Petals On A Wet Black Bough.