Kremlinology Isn’t What It Used to Be

This is awesome. Akiyoshi Komaki, the Moscow bureau chief for the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, recently got suspicious about Vladimir Putin’s official schedule. The Kremlin had released pictures of Putin meeting with four regional governors on four different days, but Komaki thought they looked suspiciously similar. Here’s a blow-up of the four photos:

The Washington Post tells the story:

Something didn’t seem quite right to Komaki about these photographs. So he began to look closely. He realized that in the photographs from the 18th, 23rd and 24th, the pencils and papers on Putin’s desk appeared to be in an almost identical, if not totally identical, arrangement. However, they were in a subtly different position on the 22nd. How had they jumped back into place for the next day?

There are similar blow-ups of Putin’s shoes and a stack of paper on the desk. Clearly Putin is busted.

None of this matters, but I love little conspiratorial nuggets like this. It’s like a C-list version of the Kremlinology of old, this time digging out minuscule cover-ups of things that no sane person would ever bother with. Back in the day, we’d obsess over stuff like this wondering if some admiral or Politburo member was about to meet with a fatal accident and have his family shuffled off to Siberia. Today, it’s about whether Vladimir Putin is trying to look a little busier than he really is. It’s disappointing in a way, but it certainly suggests that the world is a better place than it used to be.