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Photographer Documents 'Putin's Plates'

An employee holds an album containing a selection of photos of presidential candidate and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, which costs about 1,300 rubles ($45) each, at a bookstore in St. Petersburg on March 2.
Italian photographer Davide Monteleone has presented a gallery of striking images for the Russian website from an interview session Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin gave to foreign journalists ahead of the March 4 presidential election, which he was widely expected to win.

Putin's Plates asked an Italian photographer to write about the images he took of Vladimir Putin ahead of the election earlier this month. (in Russian)

As the text accompanying the photos notes, the pictures were taken by Monteleone on March 1, 2012, three days before the Russian presidential election. Monteleone accompanied Sylvie Kauffmann, the executive editor of "Le Monde," who was among six foreign journalists who got to interview Putin over dinner at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow.

The photographer writes on that the venue of the interview was not clear until the very last moment.

Before the interview the journalists asked how long it might last. A press officer said it depended on whether Putin found the interviewers' questions entertaining. "Usually he complains that journalists ask him boring questions," he added.

Putin took questions about the election, Russia's opposition, Syria, Iran. Monteleone notes that Putin appeared confident -- at times arrogant -- about his future presidential victory. Putin ate and drank little. He had a ready answer to any question he was asked. The interview went on almost until midnight.

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