A series of very curious photos appeared on the Russian blogosphere on July 9. The photos depicted the members of the G8 Summit - Nicolas Sarkozy, Dmitry Medvedev and Silvio Berlusconi - in a state of alcoholic intoxication. The leaders of France, Russia and Italy indeed looked like they were drunk. It later turned out, though, that the photos appeared as a result of reporters’ burning desire to produce a cheap sensation.
This type of sensations appears in the Western press on a regular basis. For example, the photos of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi adjusting his trousers in the crotch area have recently been published in all media outlets of Europe.
The lack of journalistic tact is a subject for a separate article. Some approach this as a manifestation of freedom of speech claiming that everyone has a right to ridicule their political leaders. In other words, they can take pictures of presidents and prime ministers visiting toilets and publish the photos in tabloids to let everyone have a good healthy laugh about them. Luckily, this is not a tradition in Russia, and we would like to hope that it will never be.
Reporters may at times produce a cheap sensation out of nowhere, and this is exactly the case with the above-mentioned photographs of the three politicians. Photographers were taking the photos using the high-speed continuous shooting function. The function allows to snap people in ridiculous positions with funny expressions on their faces. We all gesture, our facial expressions change every second, and each of these actions look bizarre and funny once they are taken away from other actions.
The trick is that the photographers took not less than a hundred of photos of the three politicians and handpicked a few “scandalous” pictures for the sensationalist report. Specialists say that the photographers were aiming their cameras at France’s Sarkozy, rather than at Russia’s Medvedev, since the French president has already been involved in a number of scandals in his political career.
If it wasn’t for the video showing the footage of the same episode like the one seen on the photos, everyone would have thought that the three politicians were drunk indeed. The video clearly shows that it was not true.
It was originally said that the sensationalist photos had been taken by Agence France Presse. However, Russia’s Politonline.ru website published an interview with AFP’s chief photographer in Russia and the countries of the former USSR, Yury Kodobnov, who said that France Presse had nothing to do with the photos.
“I would like to state that those pictures were not AFP photographs. They are pool photos – Reuters, IPI, EPA. We are sick and tired of those rascals, who do nothing but spend their whole days blogging. The photos were distributed by Deutsche Presse Agentur and sent to world’s leading agencies – this is the so-called pool which everyone gets for free. AFP is seriously concerned about the fact that the photos are ascribed to the agency. The photos must contain the pool caption and the name the German photographer, who took the photos,” Mr. Kodobnov said.
“That was an innocent situation, I saw how it all happened. Berlusconi, a man of ripe years, was showing Medvedev how strong he was – Berlusconi grabbed Medvedev and turned him. We do not take pictures of people’s feet – no one needs that. We usually photograph people from head to waist - half-length, so to speak. I can also say that AFP does not pick idiotic images. Most likely, it just happened so that someone thought that it would be funny to show Medvedev with his legs in a funny position. Why would we defame people? If a photographer considers it an achievement – it’s their own business," Yury Kodobnov said.