Baseline Service

Until quite recently, the images that came to mind when Lunghu heard the phrase “Russian tennis players” were something along the lines of Anna Kournikova, Maria Sharapova, Vera Zvonareva, Maria Kirilenko, etc.  And who can blame him?  Lunghu certainly wasn’t thinking of Comrade Bear … and Cub.

But somebody else was!

Two guys, one racquet. What can this mean?

Posters showing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wearing white polo shirts and [tennis] shorts, were put up on Sunday night near the central Moscow TsUM department store. 

The posters –stylized as ads for the department store’s spring/summer 2011 campaign– show President Dmitry Medvedev holding a tennis racket, while Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is empty-handed and looking slightly pained. Their pristine outfits have monograms “M” and “P” on the chests.  … Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, called the posters “clearly commercial” and “bordering on hooliganism.

Not so fast, Dimi!!

The TsUM department store denied any connection to the posters.
“We would like officially to state that TsUM department store has no relation to this advertising, and using (the) TsUM trademark in this case is illegal,” the store said in a press release.

After all the fuss, the posters’ creator was eventually unveiled: a member of a Moscow art group who proclaimed (anonymously, from a safe distance):

“I took the two most famous people in our country … who are completely isolated from the world of fashion and showbusiness,” the artist wrote.
“We usually see Putin and Medvedev buttoned-up and I wanted to show them as fashionable, relaxed guys who follow trends and have an active way of life.”

Epilogue:
Although one news account remarked that “neither leader has expressed particular enthusiasm for tennis,” Lunghu seems to recall an instance in (mid-)August 2009 when Putin and Medvedev played a round of Sochi badminton in full view of the camera’s unblinking eye.  But only because Rahm Emmanuel insisted …

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