Usually, when a political figure is photographed in disreputable company, he tries to cover it up. But when pictures surfaced of Russian blogger and protestor Aleksei Navalny meeting with Voldemort, the Terminator, a "gray" alien, and even that notorious lout Bender, he displayed them proudly on his blog.
I know what you're going to say — those are photoshops. (Wait, you mean Bender isn't real?) And that's the whole point.
Over the weekend, a Russian state-controlled newspaper posted a photograph of Navalny smiling next to exiled Russian businessman Boris A. Berezovsky, who's on the run and wanted by the police. The newspaper article claimed that Navalny makes no effort to hide his association with Berezovsky. The only trouble? That photo, too, was faked — and the original photo showed Navalny next to someone completely different.
As the New York Times explains in a great article, this is part of the age-old Russian art of "photomontage." For decades, the Kremlin has scored political points by cutting and pasting photos — in some cases, removing someone from the photo after they'd fallen from favor, in other cases adding someone new.
The only difference? Nowadays, with everybody owning a copy of Photoshop or something similar, it's a lot harder to fool people. The grand art of photomontage as part of political smears may finally be obsolete. Here are more of our favorite Navalny photochops from his blog: