On Wednesday, hundreds of Twitter users retweeted a set of images, one showing former U.S. President Barack Obama standing in the rain with an umbrella held over his head, and the other showing President Vladimir Putin of Russia caught in a downpour without an umbrella while attending a ceremony commemorating the millions of Russian soldiers who died during the Nazi invasion of Russia in the Second World War.
The images were originally uploaded to Twitter by Kim Dotcom on Thursday, June 22, and received more than 2,500 tweets in a few hours. Kim Dotcom is the former owner of the defunct file-sharing website Megaupload. He is wanted by U.S. authorities for criminal copyright infringement.
The set of photos that Dotcom shared on Twitter went viral within hours, receiving thousands of views. The first photo, taken on Wednesday, June 21, 2017, shows Putin standing in a downpour while commemorating the Russian Day of Memory and Sorrow which marks the day that the Nazis began their ill-fated invasion of Russia.
It is estimated that more than 9 million Russian soldiers and 17 million civilians died during the “Great Patriotic War” to defend Russia against Nazi invasion.
The downpour began suddenly, halfway through the ceremony, while Putin was standing in front of a floral tribute to dead Russian troops, just after a wreath-laying ceremony, according to the Daily Mail.
A series of photos shows Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev standing together in the rain without an umbrella, while many other Russians attending the ceremony held umbrellas. Despite the downpour, the ceremony continued with Putin and Medvedev standing resolutely in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Alexander Garden, near the walls of the Kremlin in Moscow.
— RT (@RT_com) June 23, 2017
Some of the photos show Putin and Medvedev being eventually provided with umbrellas as they watched a military parade. They had been standing in the rain for several minutes and were already soaked to the skin by the time that aides provided the umbrellas.
A separate image uploaded alongside the photo of Putin getting thoroughly wet shows the former President Barack Obama during a press conference in 2013 with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. The photo shows Obama being protected from the rain by a Marine holding an umbrella over his head.
The photo had sparked a protest by critics of the Obama administration who claimed that Obama disrespected the Marine by requiring him to hold an umbrella over his head. Some claimed that it was against the regulations of the U.S. military for Marines to hold umbrellas.
Responding to the two photos uploaded to Dotcom’s Twitter handle, hundreds of other Twitter users improvised images portraying Putin as a macho leader.
But several other Twitter users defended the former U.S. president by sharing a photo of him walking in the rain at an official ceremony without an umbrella. The photo shows him walking in a downpour ahead of his wife Michelle, who had someone holding an umbrella over her head. Some Twitter users compared the photo to Putin’s photo. They also compared it to another image showing President Donald Trump holding an umbrella while standing in the rain at a ceremony.
Besides accusation of copyright infringement, the U.S. Department of Justice has also accused Dotcom of several other criminal offenses, including money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud.
He was accused of the multiple criminal offenses after authorities in New Zealand raided his mansion in 2012 as part of efforts to shut down Megaupload, a file-sharing website based in Hong Kong.
Dotcom is currently appealing a decision by a New Zealand court that he could be extradited from New Zealand to face criminal charges in the U.S.
[Featured Image by Alexei Druzhinin/AP Images]