Russian President Vladimir Putin is seriously ill and is using body doubles, Ukraine’s top intelligence official has claimed.
In an interview broadcasted on the Ukrainian television channel Freedom, Major General Kyrylo Budanov alleged that Putin has been using lookalikes to avoid public appearances.
These doubles have different facial features, earlobes, chins, head shapes and even hairlines, according to Budanov, who is the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence’s Chief Directorate of Intelligence.
“The picture, let’s say, of the ears, is different. And it’s like a fingerprint, each person’s ear picture is unique. It cannot be repeated,” Budanov was quoted as saying by the Ukrainian news outlet TSN.
While the shape of the face of Putin’s doubles can be explained by plastic surgery or “beauty injections,” other details remained suspicious, the official claimed.
“They [Putin’s body doubles] have different habits, different mannerisms, different gaits, sometimes even different heights,” claimed Budanov, who did not provide concrete evidence to back up his claims.
During the broadcast, Budanov also claimed that Putin, who is turning 70 this October, is seriously ill and that this was not a big secret.
Putin’s public appearances have repeatedly fueled speculations about his health, with some even claiming that he has Parkinson’s disease or cancer.
The Russian head of state struggled to go down the stairs of his jet during a recent visit to Iran. Putin’s right arm also appeared rigid and stiff as he limped down the red carpet that had been rolled out for him.
In a clip that was broadcasted on Russian state television in June, the veins of Putin’s hand bulged as he gripped a table for support during a meeting in Moscow.
The Russian leader’s face was also bloated, while his legs seemed “quite thin,” according to Professor Erik Bucy, a body language expert from Texas Tech University.
“This is not a portrait of a healthy Putin, but one appearing increasingly feeble and barely able to hold himself upright at a small conference table,” Bucy recently told The Sun.
Bulging veins reportedly can be a sign of blood clots or an autoimmune disease, but they are also a natural sign of advancing age.