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Why Does Vladimir Putin Avoid Smartphones?

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/2/2018 Newsweek Europe
Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again proudly declared he does not have a smartphone, resisting the 21ts century technology for myriad reasons.

The leader - who spent most of his early career as a Soviet intelligence agent before turning to politics -  came forward to correct an official at his Council for Science and Education, who spoke about energy use in Russia and compared how much electricity boiling water takes compared to sending a single voice message via the devices that most, if not all Russians use.

Putin, setting aside the real topic of conversation, told the institute president Mikhail Kovalchuk to point out his own persistent view of cellphones.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian President Vladimir Putin

“Mikhail Valentinovich (Kovalchuk), you said that everybody has a smartphone,” Putin noted, according to state news agency Itar-Tass. “Well I don’t have a smartphone and you don’t, you see. And you say everyone has one.”

It is the latest of a series of comments by Putin, dismissing the need for him to get a cell phone, saying in 2010 that if he had would “it would ring all the time,” so he would rather not get one. The last time the Kremlin addressed the issue was in 2014, when Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president truly does not have a cellphone but prefers “other types of communication.”

Vladimir Putin standing in front of a store: 02_08_Putin_phone © Provided by IBT Media (UK) 02_08_Putin_phone  

Since the turn of the millenium, when personal cell phones become more widely available, Russians have been baffled by their president’s luddite ways, sparking threads of online conversations that try to identify different phones he is pictured holding. In 2003 one of Russia’s most popular tabloids Argumenty i Fakty reported that if Putin needs a cellphone he simply commandeers the device of one of his employees, then returns it once his call is finished.

Although Putin is Russia’s most widely covered public figures he is famously inaccessible, except through a handful of televised events, including his annual televised hotline. Putin frequently casts aspersions over the purpose of the latest digital technologies, suspecting the internet as a U.S. espionage product and receiving official briefings about social media posts such as President Donald Trump’s tweets, as he does not himself use the platform.

An air of mystery has shrouded Putin’s personal life from the Russian public, as all information about his romantic life since his divorce in 2013 exists only in the realm of conjecture. Neither his ex-wife, nor his two daughters, participate in public life. In fact, what his daughters look like today and where they work have become subjects of investigations by global media outlets.

Related: Putin's most memorable photo ops [GES] 

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes a dip in the ice cold water of Lake Seliger during the celebrations of the Epiphany Orthodox holiday at the Nilov Monastery on Stolobny Island in Russia, 19 January 2018. Vladimir Putin's most memorable photo ops

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