It’s safe to the say that the world changed significantly and permanently on the day that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. His campaign was a shocking display of aggression, lies, mockery, arrogance, and prejudice, yet he still managed to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. During Trump’s campaign, several rumors began circulating that the future president-elect had close ties to Vladimir Putin, the supreme leader of Russia and President of the Russian Federation. Such rumors were discounted by Trump supporters who assumed they were merely pieces of propaganda from the left.
However, a recent photograph featuring a disturbing billboard has been circulating the internet for quite some time now. The billboard in question shows Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin side by side. Below the pair is the caption “Let’s make the world great again – together!” When the photo first started making the rounds through social media, it was called a fake and a fraudulent means of connecting Trump and Putin in some nefarious way, as if the two world leaders have some sort of secret plan for the world.
While such a story might seem like fiction, it has since come to light that the billboard is, in fact, real. Not only does the billboard feature Trump and Putin above the English slogan, but a Russian version of the slogan appears above the two men. The image was understandably met with scrutiny and disbelief, especially when you consider the fact that Trump attempted to make it clear that he has no ties to the Russian leader beyond a few spoken words here and there.
The image of the billboard was originally published on November 16th, 2016, by Getty Images. It is important to note that the billboard, despite having both Russian and English slogans, was found in the Balkan country of Montenegro in the small town of Danilovgrad. It is believed the billboard was placed in the town by a pro-Serbian group, and if that is the case, then neither Trump nor Putin had any direct influence over its creation, although Putin may have worked through back channels to send his influence. After Trump won the election in early November, he and Putin spoke briefly over the phone to discuss the idea of returning ties between Moscow and Washington to their former glory.
An image of the billboard was included in an article by The Washington Post that went live on November 18th, 2016. The article spoke about Russians rallying in Obninsk to support Trump for President of the United States, and while the image used wasn’t directly tied to that ideal, the underlying principle was the same. A 27-year-old blogger by the name of Artyom Mainas was responsible for organizing the demonstration in Obninsk, and he decided to organize the rally after seeing protests against Trump in America. Mainas said he believed Trump would be an important global leader for future events.
Trump supporters and protesters alike were shocked and appalled to learn the billboard sporting images of Trump and Putin was actually real, but the details behind the billboard must be taken into account. First, the billboard is not actually within the Russian borders, despite how some stories reflecting the relationship between Trump and Putin have made it seem. If the billboard had appeared within Russia, it would be a much more worrisome event. However, the fact that it appeared in Montenegro doesn’t necessarily prove that neither Putin or Trump were aware of its existence or that they didn’t have a hand in creating it. As with any major developing story, the public should remain vigilante about the connection between Trump and Putin.