Ukrainian intelligence officials claim that many of Putin's public appearances are "fake." The difference between him and a double is easy to recognize.
Moscow – Again and again there is speculation about the health of Vladimir Putin. Allegedly, he is entrenched in Moscow and hardly appears in public for health reasons, Kremlin insiders want to know.
Reports about doppelgangers are also making the rounds. Even Ukraine's military intelligence regularly comments on this and continues to fuel the rumors. Russia denies and assures that Putin is doing brilliantly. In an interview with the newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda, Andriy Yusov, spokesman for the Ukrainian military intelligence service HUR, reiterated his agency's view that Vladimir Putin's public appearances are often not Vladimir Putin at all.
Putin's appearances are said to be "fake"
Yusov cites Putin's visit to the South Kherson region occupied by Russian troops in the spring of this year as an example. "This is a fact based on intelligence and the evaluation of face readers and many other specialists." The fact that Putin is sick or not really Putin can be seen from his face.
Russian President Vladimir Putin during a visit to troops near the Dnipro River on April 18. © Russian President's Office/Imago
"His visits are a complete fake, poorly organized and in a hurry. There was a significant difference in 'Putin's' behavior and appearance," Yusov added. "He would never sit in that car and dress like that. He would never talk to alleged locals because we know that access to the real Putin in the Kremlin is limited, even for his own followers. A meter-long table that gets longer and longer, mandatory quarantine that people go through before they meet it."
HUR chief and Major General Kyrylo Budanov had also commented on Putin's appearance. The president's ears would look different in several of his public appearances. Putin's behavior, appearance and even size have changed, Budanov told Ukrainian TV channel 2022+1 in August 1. And it's like a fingerprint. Each person's ears look different. It can't happen again," he said, according to Newsweek, without providing any evidence. Budanov said he believed that Putin was seriously ill and therefore used doppelgangers.
Kremlin denies lookalikes for Putin
Moscow had also gotten wind of the speculation and expressed itself. In April, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told assembled media: "You have probably heard that Putin has a great many doppelgangers working in his place while he sits in the bunker. Another lie."
"You can see for yourself what our president is like. He has always been, and still is, mega-active. Those who work next to him can hardly keep up. His energy can only be envied. His health, God willing, can only be wished for. Of course, he doesn't sit in any bunkers. That's also a lie."
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VladimirPutin in March 2022 at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium – or is it? Ukrainian intelligence officials claim that the Russian president is using doppelgangers. © IMAGO/Sergey Guneev
But Putin's former ally, now critic and nationalist hardliner Igor Girkin also said in a video that he would immediately recognize a fake Putin. Accordingly, the President avoids larger, public meetings. The real president would be recognizable when he sits far away from his followers, for example at an extremely long table. Girkin is skeptical about pictures that are supposed to show him among people in Mariupol, for example. "When I see a fake Putin in the crowd, I know immediately that I see a doppelganger. And no one knows what this doppelganger is saying. He's probably talking nonsense. (LRG)