Vladimir Putin has received his first dose of the COVID vaccine but surprisingly skipped the opportunity to be photographed shirtless while doing so.
Putin has previously posed for pictures riding a horse while topless, fishing while topless and dipping into a freezing pool for an Orthodox Epiphany, also while topless. He’s also been photographed doing judo, playing ice hockey, flying with cranes in Siberia, tranquillising a tiger, and swimming with dolphins.
But apparently being photographed getting his COVID jab was a step too far. “As to being vaccinated on camera, well he has never been a fan of that, he doesn’t like that,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the Guardian as saying. “You will have to take our word for it,” Peskov added.
Putin, 68, has also not said what vaccine he received, with the Kremlin only saying he received one of three Russian-made vaccines.
In addition, he’s missed the opportunity to join a growing cohort of European leaders who felt compelled to take their entire shirts off to get the vaccine rather than just roll a sleeve up. The most recent inductee to this dubious hall of fame was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, making Putin’s shyness all the more curious.
His apparent reluctance to appear on camera getting vaccinated comes at a crucial time in Russia’s faltering vaccine rollout. Speaking at a televised government meeting this week, Putin revealed that only 6.3 million Russians had received their COVID jabs, about 4 percent of the country’s population.
Putin told the meeting: “Vaccination, of course, is a voluntary decision for every person. It is every person’s personal decision.”