Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump are kissing on the side of a barbecue restaurant in Vilnius, Lithuania.
The mural, painted by local artist Mindaugas Bonanu, was unveiled by the co-owner of the Keule Ruke, Dominykas Čečkauskas, on Thursday. It has swiftly gained attention in both Lithuanian and international media.
The image is a riff on the famous 1979 photograph that showed Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker locked in an embrace.
That image showed the two men kissing on the lips, once a form of fraternal greeting between socialist leaders. In 1990, painted an image inspired by the kiss onto the Berlin Wall, where it became one of the most iconic works of art on what remained of the barrier between East and West Berlin.
Speaking to the Baltic Times, Čečkauskas suggested the new painting was inspired by the Soviet-era image. “We saw similarities between the two heroes (Trump and Putin). … They both have an ego that is too big, and it is funny that they get along well,” Čečkauskas said. “We are in a sort of a Cold War again, and America may get a president who will want to be friends with Russia.”
Putin and Trump are known for exchanging mutual admiration statements, with the Russian leader calling Trump “a very colorful person, tatented without any doubt” and Trump saying it was “a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.” Their relationship may have cooled, however, after Trump’s campaign released a video that appeared to portray Russia as a geopolitical rival.
Lithuania and other Baltic states once dominated by Moscow during the Soviet-ere have repeatedly expressed concern about Russian foreign policy under Putin. In a statement sent to WorldViews, Keule Ruke said that the artists behind the mural were “predicting that if Russia and the USA would ever make out, it would happen in the Baltic states … with tongues or with tanks.”