That time Ronald Reagan met Vladimir Putin

In May of 1988, President Reagan traveled to Moscow for a  summit with Mikhail Gorbachev. They rolled out the proverbial red carpet for the U.S. president and repainted buildings and repaved streets.

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President Reagan and the first lady saw the best of Moscow. President Reagan fell asleep at the Bolshoi ballet, while the first lady toured Leningrad and spoke to university students.

The most interesting part of the trip, though, was unscheduled and was initially unremarkable. Gorbachev was introducing the president to tourists. When Pete Souza, the photographer, remarked to secret service that he was surprised by the pointed questions, the agent told him that they were all KGB families. Looks like he was right.

In the photo above, Reagan is talking to a young boy. The man standing behind the kid with a camera around his neck? Vladimir Putin.

Turns out that Putin, a KGB agent, was undercover as a tourist. Can’t have the American president meeting random citizens in 1988 Russia.

Russian authorities, however, deny that the camera-wearing tourist is Putin.


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