The governor of a small ethnic republic in Russia’s Volga federal district came under fire after a photo of him sporting a costly wristwatch, clumsily edited out of the picture, hit the blogosphere.
It is the second such incident since spring, when a wristwatch by the same maker, Breguet, was photoshopped away from a photo of Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Alexander Volkov, Udmurtia’s irreplaceable leader for 19 years, appeared on a street billboard wearing a Breguet Classique Grande Complication, catalogue price $123,000, blogger Andrei Konoval reported on Livejournal on Monday.
The billboard, set up near a local zoo this summer, shows Volkov, 60, proudly clutching a leopard cub.
The sum slightly exceeds Volkov’s annual salary, which stands at 3.6 million rubles ($116,000).
The bloggers only spotted the watch last week. By last Friday, the wristwatch in the picture was plastered over with a cutout of a nameless and apparently cheap watch of unknown make, Konoval said.
Volkov maintained silence, while his spokesman Viktor Chulkov told RIA Novosti on Monday that he never saw his patron with a Breguet watch.
Volkov blamed the incident on the billboard’s designers, unnamed freelancers who allegedly decided to embellish the governor’s image by adding a touch of wealth to his appearance, Izvestia said.
But Rusnovosti.ru news website ran a set of archive pictures showing Volkov sporting a watch that looks similar to the Classique Grande Complication, though the resolution was not high enough for conclusive proof.
The previous, apparently unrelated Breguet incident dates back to April and had Patriarch Kirill sport a cheaper writstwatch by the same maker, priced at $30,000, in an official photograph from 2009.
An edited version of the picture showed the supreme church hierarch without a wristwatch – which, however, was clearly mirrored in the polished table.
The church’s press office apologized for what they called “a stupid mistake” by an editor of the Moscow Patriarchate’s website. Church spokespeople also said such attention to the Patriarch’s accessories was “overblown” and “unseemly.”