Vladimir Putin’s table keeps his enemies at bay

VSertain tables have their place in history. Capitulations were signed there, appeals that have remained famous were written there, famous meetings were held there… The one, oval, which hosted the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, on February 7, 2022, a few days before the outbreak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is one of them. These six meters separating the two men said a lot about the state of mind of the master of the Kremlin at this key moment: his fear of Covid-19 and conspiracies, his isolation, his ever more solitary reign.

The rejection displayed was not only that of the West, in the person of the French president: many collaborators or ministers of the Russian president are entitled to similar treatment. In this eminently Byzantine world that is the Kremlin, proximity or distance are subtle markers of esteem or disgrace.

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Tables and desks have been an essential attribute of Vladimir Putin’s long reign since he came to power in 1999. On July 28, 2000, the president summoned the twenty leading oligarchs who had supported his rise to explain the new rules of the game to them. : to them the dollars, to him the policy. The place had been chosen with care: the former dacha of Joseph Stalin, in Kountsevo.

“Refugee in his bunker”

The offices of the Russian president are immutable. It is a question of displaying the austere permanence of power, the eternal omnipotence of the towers of the Kremlin. Clearly visible national coats of arms, obsolete penholders and amber paperweights, innumerable telephones preserved from the Soviet era… Not a file visible, only the perfectly waxed wood.

Another powerful, the patriarch Kirill, fell victim to this too shiny wood when his press service Photoshopped a luxury watch on his wrist, forgetting the reflection of the object on the table.

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No computer either, the Russian president has already admitted not mastering the operation. Nothing personal, above all, no photograph or even a pen that might betray his personality, his preferences. The president is a civil servant like any other, who is moreover a former secret service. A human pain.

Another objective of this mixture of sought-after sobriety and very Soviet pomp: not to reveal information on the place where the president works. The only novelty, since the Covid-19 pandemic, is the appearance of giant screens for videoconferences, which have become the main working tool of a Vladimir Putin that Internet users mock in “grandfather taking refuge in his bunker”.

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