From false teeth and different-shaped ears to rumours of plastic surgery and a suspiciously fast walk – could Vladimir Putin really be using a body double?
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.
It is unclear who made the footage but it appears to be aimed at reaching Russians who rely on uber-loyalist state media for their news.
Putin is widely believed to have had regular plastic surgery as he has aged since first becoming acting president on the last day of 1999.
The producers of the video said that a specialist has noticed differences in the Russian president’s appearance, like the ledge on his earlobe, a mole or his wrinkles which ‘constantly change’.
Rumours are rife that Putin ‘understudies’ – who have undergone plastic surgery to resemble him – are deployed increasingly as his health worsens amid rumours of cancer and early stage Parkinson’s.
For Putin’s Mariupol visit, the video claims ‘they forgot to put in his jaw’ as it looks different to Putin’s and also questions if the ‘double’ has false teeth.
On Monday, March 20, Kyiv official Anton Gerashchenko posted three images of Putin’s chin and questioned whether they belonged to the same man.
The Interior Minister advisor wrote: ‘What’s up with your chin, Putin?
‘Looks like lately his make-up artists (i.e. for the recent trips of the bunker man to the occupied Crimea and Mariupol) had to work with quite a low-quality copy, not even a double but its copy. I wonder which one of them was real?’
One picture showed Putin, 70, one month ago in an address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow.
Another was Putin’s reported visit to naval port Sevastopol in Crimea on March 18.
And the third was from footage released the following day evidently showing the dictator in war-blitzed Mariupol.
The first image showed his chin tight and precise.
But the image in Sevastopol – grabbed from Ukraine in 2014 – incited a sagging chin, while the Mariupol chin appears firmer but less so than in the Moscow picture.
The Telegram channel General SVR insisted Putin had not been to Sevastopol or Mariupol, a city invaded after a bloody battle last year.
‘The information from the Kremlin’s resources that Vladimir Putin visited Crimea and Mariupol is NOT true,’ claimed the channel which says it has insider sources.
In Crimea, a double of the president was noted with a short visit and solely for the sake of a video photo shoot.’
There have been repeated claims that Putin uses body doubles on some trips outside Moscow, or when there are many people around.
In January, General SVR also claimed that Putin’s visit to UFA involved a ‘body double’ and not the real president. It predicted: ‘Soon, the understudy will appear more and more often as president,’ said the channel. ‘The President’s health tends to worsen.’
In Ufa, the ‘president’ was seen paying his respects at the open coffin of iron-fisted Murtaza Rakhimov, ex-leader of oil-rich Russian republic Bashkortostan, who died aged 88. He also met the region’s head, Radiy Habirov.
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