Putin does use body doubles and has a ‘clean zone’ where staff have to quarantine before getting close to him, a Russian investigation has claimed.
The extent of Putin’s distancing is noted in the report by Russian media outlet Proekt.
People who constantly accompany the Russian president spend time in the so-called ‘clean zone’ – a boarding house where only quarantined people live and work, according to the report.
They can leave their rooms and are allowed to walk around the allocated area. The Sochi sanatorium ‘Rus’ was initially used as this type of zone, it adds.
Since then, ‘clean zones’ have appeared in other regions important to the president.
Vladimir Putin’s chin pictured (left to right) on 21 February 2023 in Moscow during the address to the Federal Assembly; on 18 March 2023 during Vladimir Putin’s visit to Sevastopol, and on 19 March 2023 on Vladimir Putin’s visit to Mariupol
A grab from a video promoting the theory that Putin is using doppelgängers for trips he doesn’t want to make, noting the shape of his earlobes in appearances
Putin this week insisted on keeping a distance of 70ft between himself and other diplomats at a Kremlin event which saw him accept the diplomatic credentials of several new ambassadors to Russia, including Britain’s new man in Moscow Nigel Casey
The investigators studied official events that the president took part in from November 1 last year to October 31 this year, which amounted to 521.
At 43 per cent of them the president was visibly keeping a distance from his interlocutors in one way or another, according to the report.
There were 113 video meetings in total for the year, which included almost all Security Council meetings and all meetings with the government, the report noted, adding that when Putin does need to communicate with people in person, the Kremlin resorts to ‘wild security measures’.
The number of meetings at which Putin did not distance himself, but ‘most likely forced other people to quarantine,’ was 185 – almost 36 per cent of the total for the year, according to the report.
The investigation came as Putin bizarrely refused to stand within 70ft of Britain’s new ambassador to Moscow at a diplomatic ceremony this week – blaming ‘sanitary reasons’.
In awkward scenes that resembled the height of the Covid pandemic, Putin insisted on keeping a huge distance between himself and other diplomats at the Kremlin event which saw him accept the diplomatic credentials of several new ambassadors to Russia, including Britain’s new man in Moscow Nigel Casey.
There have been a number of body double reports concerning the Russian president since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.
Proekt points out that before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the president’s schedule contained virtually no events where he would remain at an unnatural distance from those gathered, contrasting this with his behaviour during the dates investigated.
Putin, a judo enthusiast who has long cultivated an ‘action man’ image, turned 71 on October 7 and rumours of his ill health have been swirling for years.
In a 2020 interview, Putin denied long-standing rumours that he uses body doubles, although he said he had been offered the chance to use one in the past for security reasons.
But observers have pointed to the Kremlin strongman’s changing appearance over the years as possible evidence that he uses someone else to stand in for him on engagements he either does not want to make or considers too dangerous.
The speculation ran rife in June when Putin made a surprise visit to the city of Derbent in southern Russia just days after the failed Wagner rebellion, with footage showing how the despot dived into a night-time crowd like a Hollywood actor on a red carpet.
Seemingly imbued with fresh energy after averting a small-scale civil war the week earlier, the normally stoic and isolated Putin was uncharacteristically personable, shaking hands and planting kisses on the head of a young teenage girl who gushed over him and pleaded with her mother to snap a photo of her with the president.
In another bizarre moment he shook hands with – and appeared to adjust something on the uniform of – an officer carrying what may have been his nuclear briefcase.
He has not greeted his security apparatchiks in such a way previously.
The scene was markedly different to the extreme measures of the last few years that have enforced strict quarantines for anyone outside of Putin’s close circle before meeting him.
His transformative behaviour – described as ‘astounding’ by the Kremlin – has led many, including senior Russian figures, to fuel speculation that the Putin greeting adoring fans in Dagestan was in fact a body double.
Putin listens to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on October 24, 2023
The Derbent outing was seen as a publicity stunt by critics. Putin has not been seen greeting crowds in such a way since before the pandemic
Russian political analyst Dr Valery Solovey said in October: ‘The fact is that the current President Vladimir Putin is living out the last days of his earthly life.’
Solovey is former professor at Moscow’s prestigious Institute of International Relations [MGIMO], a training academy for spies and diplomats.
The head of Ukrainian military intelligence Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov has alleged that the real Putin has not been seen since June last year.
‘The one, who everyone used to know, was last seen around 26 June 2022,’ he said in September.
A recent Japanese TV report used AI to analyse Putin’s face, walk and voice in multiple appearances, and concluded that he does use one and perhaps two body doubles.
A Vladimir Putin body ‘double’ may have been used for his arrival at a summit in Tehran this week, according to the head of Ukrainian military intelligence
Putin has made trips to Kyrgyzstan and China, and was unusually active in travelling inside Russia.
In October, he visited Perm and held talks with his war commander General Valery Gerasimov in Rostov-on-Don after making a ‘detour’ to visit the military headquarters.
The channel says all these are undertaken by body doubles who underwent plastic surgery and years of training by Russian secret services to perform as Putin stand-ins.
In April, Peskov admitted that reports were rife about Putin’s doppelgängers but claimed the warmonger was ‘mega-active’.
‘Perhaps you had heard that Putin has multiple doubles, who work instead of him while he is sitting inside a bunker,’ he said. ‘This is yet more lies. This is one more lie.
‘You see our President. He is just as he used to be – mega-active.’
Putin has admitted that his aides previously asked him if he wanted to use body doubles, a routine procedure for former Kremlin leaders Stalin and Brezhnev. The Russian President said he had rejected the scheme.