Just across town from a shady, possibly Russian-funded photo exhibit in Chelsea sits "Peacemaker Putin," a shady, possibly Russian-funded t-shirt shop in Gramercy, hawking shirts with slogans like "From Russia with Love" and "Make Peace Not War." Julius Kacinskis, the American-born owner, insists he's just mad about Vlad.
The shop, at 25 East 20th Street in Gramercy, is kind of like the Big Lebowski shop in the West Village if it were about a trigger-happy Russian president instead of a transcendently laid-back California stoner. One shirt for sale, displayed on Instagram, shows Putin as an ascendant superhero, soaring with birds; another celebrates Russia's annexation of Crimea as a "happy reunion."
Curiously, as BuzzFeed notes, the tiny, brand-new store has received coverage from Russia Today, Channel One Russia, and NTV—all of which are owned by or connected to the Russian government (NTV is owned by Gazprom, an energy company whose majority owner is the Russian state; RT and Channel One are openly state-owned).
Kacinskis denied to BuzzFeed that Russian interests were funding his business: he opened up shop and hired his two security guards with $20,000 he made from investing in businesses and "whatever makes a dollar these days," he said. He added that he is "very open ended" on how long the shop will remain open.