Photo of Putin wearing crinkled suit has circulated online since 2017

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An image of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been shared thousands of times online alongside a claim he "has started to wear a bulletproof vest" after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Part of Putin's wrinkled suit jacket was circled in the posts as evidence for the claim. The photo has been shared in a false context: it has circulated in reports since mid-2017, almost five years before Russian troops invaded Ukraine.

The photo was shared here on May 22, 2022.

It shows Russian President Vladimir Putin bending over a body of water.

In the post, the wrinkles on his suit jacket have been circled in red.

The post's Thai-language caption translates to English as: "#StopWarInUkraine #StandWithUkraine.

"Looks like Putin has started to wear a bulletproof vest."

Screenshot of the misleading post captured on May 27, 2022

The post circulated online as Russian forces tightened their grip around key cities in the Donbas region, AFP reported.

The image was also shared thousands of times alongside a similar claim linking it to the war on Twitter in Thai and English-language posts.

However, the photo was shared in a false context: it predates the Russian invasion of Ukraine by almost five years.

A reverse image search on Yandex, followed by a keyword search, found the photo published here on the Twitter account of a Russian media outlet Kommersant on August 4, 2017.

The tweet's Russian-language caption translates into English as: "Vladimir Putin at the ceremony of releasing young omul fish into the Baikal lake Photo: Gleb Shchelkunov / Kommersant"

Omul is a whitefish species of the salmon family endemic to Lake Baikal in Siberia.

In the original image, Putin can be seen releasing multiple small fish into the lake.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading posts (L) and on Kommersant (R):

Screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading posts (L) and on Kommersant (R)

The image was also shared in this article on Kommersant's website on August 4, 2017.

The article states that while Putin was in Lake Baikal, he was asked if he was going to run for the presidential election in 2018.

Putin, who has ruled Russia for more than two decades, was re-elected as president in March 2018 with a record vote share, AFP reported.

The image was shared on August 5, 2017 in a Russian-language tweet here by Nasha Canada, a Toronto-based community newspaper alongside speculation that it shows Putin wearing something under his suit jacket.

AFP has not been able to identify whether the original image shows the Russian leader wearing a bulletproof vest.

AFP Fact Check has debunked other inaccurate claims about Russia's invasion of Ukraine here.

Ukraine conflict