Russians are used to seeing photographs of their Prime Minister's daredevil exploits in the news – but now it is the person holding the camera that is raising eyebrows, as it has been revealed that Vladimir Putin has hired a former model as his personal photographer.
Yana Lapikova – who has already started work following Mr Putin on his busy schedule of meetings, events and travel around Russia's regions – is a former Miss Moscow contestant.
Ms Lapikova, 25, who has posed in her underwear for fashion magazines, may be able to give Mr Putin advice on how best to undress for the camera. He has posed topless for the cameras when riding horses and swimming in Siberia.
Sultry black-and-white shots posted online feature Mr Putin's new photographer puffing seductively on a cigarette, while a full-colour photograph shows Ms Lapikova blindfolded and holding a candle aloft.
"We don't choose our photographers according to their gender," Mr Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said. "She's really a good photographer and her past as a model doesn't interest us at all – it's not a crime."
Some Russian bloggers sniggered at the appointment and pointed out photographs – recently removed – that Ms Lapikova had previously posted online. One of them is called Fruit Composition – East and features a platter of fruit, with some radishes in the foreground, lit by a candle.
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