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Nip, Tuck, Invade: The Curious Case of Benjamin Putin

Nip, Tuck, Invade: The Curious Case of Benjamin Putin

As the developments in the Russia – Ukraine standoff were unfolding at warp speed, there was one thing that remained constant — Russian President Vladimir Putin’s facial expression.

There’s a new anti-Russian government in Ukraine?
Dead-eyed stare with a slight smirk.
Crimea is up for grabs?
Dead-eyed stare with a slight smirk.
Let’s invade!
Dead-eyed stare with a slight smirk.

And this has happened before:

2012: The Russian constitution was changed for me to run for a third presidential term?
Dead-eyed stare with a slight smirk.
2003: Why not arrest Russia’s richest man, oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky?
Dead-eyed stare with a slight smirk.
2000: Why don’t we make Chechnya part of Russia?
Dead-eyed stare with a slight smirk.

Maybe he’s just remarkably stoic. Maybe he’s a great actor. Or maybe something else is at play. Has Vladimir Putin “had work done”? Has he been “nipped” and “tucked?” Is the Russian president just another member of the international elite — the tight-skinned and high-cheekboned — addicted to plastic surgery?

Here’s the Curious Case of Benjamin Putin, who seems to look younger with each passing year, even as he sticks to his dead-eyed stare. And his smirk.

In 2000, a gaunt Putin, then acting president and by the looks of it free from Botox, arrives at a polling place to cast his ballot.

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

Three years later, the presidency has taken its toll:

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Perhaps due to the rejuvenating effects of uninhibited power, things started to look up in 2005.

MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images

Shirtless and smooth-skinned in Siberia in 2009.

ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images

Both tabloids and more reputable outlets have for years speculated about the source of Putin’s youthful appearance. The chatter became especially loud in 2011 when Putin was up for a third term as Russia’s president. The New Times, a Russian magazine, asked some plastic surgeons about Putin’s surprisingly youthful experience. The verdict: Vladimir was likely to have had an eye-lift, Botox injections, and cheekbone injections.

“In a bid to once again become Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin has pledged to lift his country’s sagging economy, nip corruption in the bud, and smooth fractured relations with regional neighbors,” ABC wrote in 2011, shortly after that report, barely containing its glee.  Some 60 percent of responders to an online survey on the Huffington Post thought that Vladimir Putin “had work done;” 40 percent said he probably “just got more sleep this weekend.”

Here, in 2011, he looks to have shaved about 10 years off his appearance, with the dark circles under his eyes magically disappearing.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

With former Italian prime minister  Silvio Berlusconi, a man known to have dabbled with artificial anti-aging techniques, in 2012:

DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images

A year later, as Putin turned 60 and divorced his wife of 30 years, the rumors returned. In the summer of 2013, Vanity Fair, ever so diligent on the plastic surgery beat, compared his neck to Play Doh and likened his forehead “delicately raked valleys of sand in a tranquil Japanese garden.” The magazine concluded that his face “reveals a laws-of-physics-bending tightness not seen since Rush Limbaugh successfully sat in a two-seater car.” 

Last year, with a forehead smooth like a baby’s. Did we mention he used to be in the KGB?

ALEKSEY NIKOLSKYI/AFP/Getty Images

And did the Russian leader get a refresher for his pet project, the 2014 Sochi Olympics? Judge for yourself. Here, Putin during the closing ceremony.

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Mimicking emotion during the Sochi Paralympics opening ceremony:

Ian Walton/Getty Images

If there is one thing that we can be sure of in this world, it’s that whatever happens, Putin’s surgeons will make sure that he maintains his uncanny resemblance to a hairless cat.