Fars News Agency has claimed that Vladimir Putin was so overwhelmed in his recent meeting with the Iranian president that he became fidgety and had to tidy his tie to calm himself.
"Those who have seen the 21-minute footage released by Ria Novosti know how Putin looks stressed during the meeting, tidying his tie twice, moving his legs and shoulders. Why? Because he feels this is a very important political meeting that is vital for his country," a seven-minute-long video-commentary by media researcher Mohammad Lesani claimed.
The video-commentary entitled "Historical Arrangement, Iranian Power and Authority" which was published Friday by Fars news website affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) was widely circulated by other government-controlled media outlets.
"On the other hand, you see Mr. Raisi's serenity who is speaking calmly without moving his hands and legs," the video went on to say.
Many Iranian social media users have interpreted the placement of a massive table to separate the two presidents in the meeting as an intentional act to imply "distance" and said it was a sign of disrespect that Putin was chewing gum while Raisi was speaking. They have also pointed out that unlike most official meetings, the flags of the two countries were nowhere to be seen in the hall.
Drawing by an Iranian cartoonist showing Raisi praying in the Kremlin.
While showing a photo of Putin's meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nicol Pashinyan at the same table sitting a closer and facing the Russian president, the narrator said Putin had a "haughty" and "emperor-like" demeanor while Aliyev and Pashinyan looked as if they were being "politically humiliated".
The Fars video went to great lengths to justify the mise-en-scene in the room. Showing photos of Putin's meetings with other foreign dignitaries in the same hall, including his meetings with the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro, the narrator said Putin meets foreign dignitaries in the same hall and "his important working meetings" at the same table.
"But the arrangement this time was a historical and unprecedented arrangement… Two political leaders are sitting at the two ends sides of the table…[resembling] balanced plates of a weighing scale," the video said.
"I wanted to make a response to those people who beat the drums of despair and think that the strategic agreements of our country with Russia, China, and other countries of the East …are supposedly equal to destroying our nation, identity, and Iran's power and authority," the narrator said in the video.
The publication of a photo of President Raisi praying at the same hall has also raised much controversy in social media. State media and hardliners say Raisi broke his meeting with the Russian president not to miss the noontime prayer and to display spirituality at a place where once atheists ruled.
Several Friday imams eulogized Raisi's move to stand to prayer at the Kremlin as a gesture of great significance. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's representative in Alborz province, Mohammad-Mehdi Hosseini-Hamedani, in his Friday sermon also predicted that Raisi may stand to prayer at the White House someday because his act of praying at the Kremlin "bore important messages".