4 December 2023
Fact checkFalse

False: Putin was not holding a picture of the late King Bhumibol of Thailand

The image is manipulated. The original shows Russian President Vladimir Putin holding his father’s portrait during the Immortal Regiment march in 2015.

An image posted on Facebook on Feb. 27 showed Russian President Vladimir Putin holding a photo of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or King Rama IX, the late King of Thailand. 

The Thai text in the image claimed, when translated in English, “Russia can withstand due to the merit of King Rama IX” (รัสเซียยืนหยัดได้เพราะบุญคุณของในหลวงรัชกาลที่ 9).

The post received more than 4,000 reactions, over 800 comments and 400 shares.

Some users seem to have believed it is an authentic photo, while others said this was satirical content.

A screenshot of some comments that suggest the users believed the image’s authenticity

Those comments can be translated as, ”Long Live the King,” “Love Putin” and “The world’s greatest leader, King Rama IX of Thailand.”

However, the claim is false. An image of King Bhumibol was digitally added to another unrelated photo. 

Image search led to this original photo showing Putin holding a portrait of his father, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin. 

The photo is credited to Reuters and its caption says Putin is holding a portrait of his father, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin.

According to Alamy, a stock photography platform, the news photo was taken during the Immortal Regiment march in the Red Square, Moscow on May 9, 2015, by Maxim Shemetov for Reuters (more photos of the event can be seen here).

The event commemorated Russian veterans from World War II.

King Bhumibol’s iconic photo, on the other hand, was shot by Princess Sirindhorn’s personal photographer in 1985, according to a master’s degree thesis in anthropology submitted to Thammasat University.

A screenshot of King Bhumibol’s portrait in a thesis about the impact of King’s portraits on common people’s lives

The thesis argues that this “powerful” portrait became an iconic symbol of the King fulfilling his royal duties.

When King Bhumibol died on Oct. 13, 2016, Putin made a condolence speech about his death and Thailand’s achievement, which was also reported by the Bangkok Post.

A Thai news outlet TNN reported that Putin had visited Thailand and met King Bhumibol in 2004.

The misleading post came out when Putin announced military operations against Ukraine.

According to the Bangkok Post, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said the country will remain neutral and prioritize bringing Thais in Ukraine back home as soon as possible.

Some Thai politicians such as Pita Limjaroenrat, leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, called for Russia to withdraw troops from Ukraine on Twitter.