The head of Ukrainian military intelligence voiced his suspicions that Vladimir Putin may be using body doubles for political events after he noticed something strange about the Russian president as he arrived in Tehran.
Putin’s plane touched down in Iran earlier this week for a summit where the politician was scheduled to meet with the leaders of both Iran and Turkey.
While the Russian leader looked awkward as he came down the steps of his presidential plane in Tehran, Ukrainian sources noted he moved unusually quickly and was more alert than in prior public appearances.
In a brief clip, the man assumed to be Putin awkwardly limped while walking towards a group that included Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Despite his shuffling steps, Ukrainian intelligence sources noticed he seemed to be more alert than usual and that he moved uncharacteristically quickly.
“I will only hint,” Major-General Kyrylo Budanov said in an interview on Ukraine’s 1+1 news channel. “Please look at the moment of Putin’s exit from the plane. Is it Putin at all?”
The Russian leader’s visit to Tehran where he met Iran’s leadership, plus Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, attracted worldwide attention.
It is only the second time Putin has been abroad since launching the invasion of Ukraine five months ago.
Now we can’t confirm if these claims are accurate or just propaganda to smear the Russian President but two years ago, Putin admitted to considering the idea of using body doubles in the early 2000s, but later insisted that he decided against the suggestion.
“I discarded the idea of any doubles,” he said at the time. “This was during the toughest time of our war against terrorism.”
Body doubles were reportedly used by former Kremlin leaders, for example longtime Soviet supremos Josef Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev.
Meanwhile, a Russian expert on Putin has strongly disputed a CIA claim that the Kremlin leader is ‘too healthy’ and showing no evidence of multiple medical problems.
Political scientist Valery Solovey challenged a claim by CIA director William Burns this week that there was no intelligence to suggest Putin was seriously ill.
Solovey, who has long claimed the Russian leader is ailing, said: ‘The Americans, the CIA particularly, have information on the real state of health of the Russian president.
‘They definitely know that he has serious troubles, including mental ones.’