In the last 36 hours or so, it's very probable Vladimir Putin duplicated this nonverbal moment more than once. A massive amount of files were leaked to the German paper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared the data with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. These leaked emails, contracts, scanned documents, etc., have been dubbed "The Panama Papers".
Approximately 11.5 million documents (2.6 terabytes worth, the largest ever) were leaked - some of which go back 40 years, and are allegedly connected to Panamanian law firm "Mossack Fonseca". There's a lot yet to be revealed, yet the data references 12 current or former heads of state, as well as at least 140 additional high-level officials from around the World. The documents so far don't necessarily demonstrate illegal activity, however they do shed light into the little understood universe of off-shore finances. While Vladimir Putin was not directly linked to these accounts, several of his close friends (e.g., Sergei Roldugin) and associates are alleged to be included. Earlier today a Russian government spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, stated that Putin was the "obvious" intended target of this leak.
When the mouth is covered, often rapidly and with one or both hands - it may (depending upon the other nonverbals with which it is clustered) signal a gap (which often is momentary but can be much longer) between what the logical brain knows - and what the emotional brain has yet to understand. This disparity between the intellect and feelings, what some people refer to as "emotional processing", will be manifested nonverbally in many ways. Vladimir's example in this image is but one example.
Intriguingly, essentially every human being performs this body language MAP (Manipulator, Adaptor, Pacifier) when they are directly involved themselves in a sudden and dramatic event. Yet when other people are the victims - particularly when it's repeated and those involved are far away and unknown - and the subject at hand displays this nonverbal, it signals a relatively higher empathy quotient.
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3518: Donald Trump's Feminine and Beta Body Language
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Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3507: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Amy Adams Do The Batman Voice - The Graham Norton Show
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Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3364: Jennifer Lawrence accidentally kisses Natalie Dormer on the Mouth
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