Photos of a Bizarre College-Age Fan Club That Worships Putin as a Pinup

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Most Americans seem to know Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, from the controversial, anti-Putin Pussy Riot protests and the many GIFs that mock his absurd attempts at establishing a hyper-masculine image in the media. But there is a segment of the Russian population that idolizes the political figure, including a group of teens and 20-somethings who look at Putin as a kind of pinup.

Hungarian photographer Bela Doka captured the Putin fan club in a fascinating photo series back in 2007. “When I was young I had posters in my room of my idols; in Russia, they have a different idol,” the artist stated. “For them, Putin was a pop star.” Doka relates that many of the young women even see him as “an ideal man, someone they’d want their future husband to resemble.” But the photographer believes many of the Putin admirers have probably moved on from their weird crush. “I can imagine right now most of these kids are not even devoted to Putin. It’s like music — you like Bon Jovi for three years and then after maybe you start to like jazz.”

Doka’s Putin series will be featured at Photo London from May 21 to 24. The artist will also show new work at Art15 London next week, via gallery Faur Zsófi (booth C11). Those images capture the residents of a small fishing village in the Philippines.

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka

Photo credit: Bela Doka