The Photograph of Putin Kneeling and Kissing Jinping’s Hand is Fake

Apart from the fact that such a submissive gesture would be extremely unrealistic, the fact-check suggests that the photograph was generated with an artificial intelligence application (AI). Artificial intelligence apps can create photo-realistic pictures, full of details, difficult to distinguish from the real photos. Nevertheless, they regularly produce photographs with errors – the hands and ears are usually unrealistically presented. The face of the alleged Putin can hardly be seen on the photograph because it is completely outside of the picture, while Xi is very blurry and difficult to recognize. Such a photograph cannot be found in the databases of any news agency, nor can one find clear evidence that the photograph was not generated with the use of artificial intelligence software


Did Vladimir Putin really go down on one knee to kiss the hand of Xi Jinping? Such (dis)information was published by the web-portal MkDenes, showing a photo that seemingly looked just like that. However, the truth is that the photograph, that was allegedly taken during the recent visit of the Chinese leader of Russia, is fake.

The visit of Chinese President, XI Jinping, to Russia became the main headline on the front pages of world media outlets. The visit took place when the West was calling upon China to distance itself from Russia, especially now when the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Putin.

After his visit a photograph that became viral on the social networks was published showing, allegedly, the Russian President Vladimir Putin kneeling before the Chinese President Xi Jinping. That would be a gesture with a great deal of symbolism – provided the photograph was not fake.

This photograph was published with a text on MkDenes under the title ”PUTIN ON HIS KNEES before Xi Jinping, Russia before CHINA”. After that, apart from being shared on their profile on Facebook, the photo was published on another Facebook page as well where it became viral.

But, that is not true. Putin did not kneel before Xi Jinping. The photograph is fake. Apart from the fact that such a submissive gesture woud be extremely unrealistic, the fact-check suggests that the photograph was generated with an artificial intelligence application (AI).

The fact-check performed by Deutsche Welle shows that several confusing details of the photo attract one’s attention.

The rear shoe of the person kneeling – claimed to be Putin – is disproportionately large and wide. The calf on the same leg looks stretched. The person’s head, while half covered, is also very large and does not match the proportions of the rest of the body. The ear is strangely deformed and features several odd, nondescript lumps that other images of Putin’s ears do not show. The ear on – purportedly – Xi Jinping’s head also appears strangely deformed if one zooms in. But the most obvious discrepancy does not regard either Xi or Putin, but the person standing left of them. This man’s hands appear to be fused together. Experience has shown that these are all noticeable problems that occur in AI-generated pictures. These are graphics created by apps with the help of AI and intended to look real, Deutsche Welle analyzes.

Artificial intelligence apps can create photo-realistic pictures of natural settings and people, full of details and difficult to distinguish from actual photographs. Nevertheless artificial intelligence apps regularly produce pictures with errors, especially the hands and ears are unrealistically presented. That is one of the problems that the pictures produced with artificial intelligence apps have to face.

In addition, the face of the alleged Putin cannot be seen on the photograph. The face is completely out of the picture, while the image of Xi is very blurry and difficult to recognize.

Searching the official photographs of Xi’s state visit of Russia also suggests that the photo which is subject of this fact-check is fake. Specifically, we were looking for details that could be similar to the photo concerned. None of the photograph services had photos reflecting the alledged submission. The furniture from the actual photos of the state visit does not match the one from the fake photograph.

The photograph is not signed by a photographer or an agency. It is just shared on the social networks without any other photos from the event.

Although the photograph shared on the social networks could have been made from a different place and not registered by the media, it is highly probable that the security services of both leaders would not have rendered the possibility to make such a sincere photograph, not to mention its leaking on the Internet.

The photograph on which Putin – allegedly – can be seen kneeling in front of Xi Jinping is fake. It cannot be found in the databases of any media outlet, nor is there clear evidence that the photograph was not generated by artificial intelligence software.

Due to the fact that vivid evidence confirming the origin of the photograph does not exist, neither Putin nor Jinping can be seen clearly, the space from the photgraph cannot be found in any other official photo from their meetings, and the fact that the photograph has a large number of elements that strongly suggest a product generated by means of artificial intelligence apps, we assess the post as untrue.



This article was developed within the framework of the project “Promoting Access to Reliable News to Counter Disinformation”, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation. The article, which has been published on the Macedonian-language version of Truthmeter, was produced with the support of the American non-profit foundation NED (National Endowment for Democracy). The contents of the article is the responsibility of the author and do not always reflect the positions of Metamorphosis Foundation, NED or their partners.

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