The end of macho man Putin?

The Washington Post brings a distressing story for those of us in the business of generating blog posts/clickbaiting slideshows about Russia's photogenic autocrat:

What's a 60-year-old president to do? The answer comes in a purportedly secret Kremlin policy paper: Forget the jet-piloting, bare-chested hunter look. Cue the wise elder statesman.

Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismisses such talk as utterly ridiculous. But it surfaced earlier this week in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper, which reported that it had obtained a Kremlin document arguing for the Putin rebranding, while embracing the milder liberals around him instead of the hard-talking tough guys. Political analysts took the story as a trial balloon and offered their own ideas of a touch-up.

"No wrinkles, absolutely not," Alexei Makarkin said. "No gray hair."

Yes, said Makarkin, deputy director of the Center for Political Technologies, Putin should stop diving into the sea and returning with ancient Greek amphoras, one photo op that was later acknowledged as staged. He should stop dressing as a crane and flying a glider to guide birds into the wild. But in ancient Russia, he should not look old.

We'll always have Sochi. If an image makeover is actually coming, it also seems possible it may be related to the mysterious injury Putin appears to have suffered in recent months. 

Today on FP, Simon Shuster writes about how Putin's seemingly cosmetic "corruption crackdown" may be spiraling out of control. 

Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images

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