The truly odd circus surrounding Vladimir Putin has included persistent rumors about his health, which previously made a Kremlin spokesperson laugh out loud. And since the Kremlin finds the subject amusing, that mood (might have) paved the way for the rapid spread of reports that Putin had a nasty little fall (with digestive aftereffects) down some stairs. This chatter has been accompanied by allegations that Putin’s inner circle was maneuvering to find a successor, which also had to do with growing Russian unease regarding Putin’s ongoing Ukraine invasion.
All of this talk died down a bit until this week when news outlets (beginning in England) began to circulate reports that Putin had experienced cardiac arrest and was found passed out on Sunday night in his bedroom. However, the Kremlin was quick to make light of this report as well with Reuters reporting that a Kremlin spokesperson “laughed off” this latest claim along with chatter of a Putin body double:
“Everything is fine with him, this is absolutely another fake… This belongs to the category of absurd information hoaxes that a whole series of media discuss with enviable tenacity. This evokes nothing but a smile.”
Only time will tell? Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky could make another demand for proof of life, although Putin is regularly seen in recorded addresses, so who knows whether the Kremlin would trot him around in public. As for the body double allegations, those could be explained away as Putin overdoing his Botox addiction, but I suspect that claim would not go over well with the Russian president.