The Kremlin has hit back at claims Vladimir Putin is using body doubles and hiding in nuclear bunkers.
Rumors have been swirling over the 70-year-old’s seemingly ever-changing appearance in recent months.
Conspiracy theorists have closely analyzed differences in the Russian president’s chin, earlobes and wrinkles on his face each time he’s seen in public.
There have been reports that Putin is suffering from several types of cancer and early Parkinson’s disease after he’s been seen gripping desks tightly, walking awkwardly and shuffling his feet.
It’s led many to believe the ‘real’ Putin is actually hiding in nuclear bunkers and sending lookalikes along to public appearances.
But yesterday, the dictator’s mouthpiece Dmitry Peskov – a senior Kremlin official – was forced to issue an extraordinary denial and insisted that Putin was in good health.
Peskov was on the defensive when speaking to teenagers and children at an educational event broadcast on state TV yesterday.
While he admitted reports were rife about Putin’s doppelgängers, he claimed the warmonger was ‘mega-active’ and rejected the conspiracies.
He said: ‘Perhaps you had heard that Putin has multiple doubles, who works instead of him while he is sitting in a bunker.
‘This is yet more lies. This is one more lie. You see our president. He is just as he used to be – mega-active.’
In a desperate bid to dispel speculation, he also claimed: ‘Those who work next to him struggle to keep up.
‘One might only feel envious about his level of energy. His health – you can only wish it for yourself.
‘Of course, he never sat in any bunker – this is a lie, too. And you see it, this is obvious.’
A common theory is that Putin uses stand-in actors who’ve undergone elaborate plastic surgery to look like him.
Political analyst Valery Solovey is adamant the dictator did so last week when he was seen meeting his war generals in the occupied Kherson region of Ukraine.
He told interviewer Arseny Vesnin on the Russian YouTube channel Ischem vykhod: ‘It was his double. Everyone knows this.’
Carefully edited footage of the ‘Putin visit’ was released at least one day, and perhaps several days, after it took place.
Solovey also alleges Wagner Group private military founder Yevgeny Prizoghin refused to take part in the sham.
He said: ‘He simply knew that this was not the president. When such things happen, nothing remains of reputation, of political weight.’
General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s intelligence chief, strongly believes Putin employs surgically altered lookalikes.
He said: ‘We know specifically about three people who keep appearing, but how many there are, we don’t know. They all had plastic surgery to look alike.’
Many are claiming Putin has retreated to bunkers fitted at his residences and palaces while the war is ongoing.
Earlier this month, Solovey told leading Russian independent journalist Yulia Latynina on her YouTube channel that Putin was ‘quite unwell’.
He said: ‘He can hardly walk a few hundred meters. It is very hard for him physically, so he is often pushed around in a special wheelchair in his favorite bunkers.’
Former Kremlin leaders have been on the record as using body doubles, including longtime Soviet supremos Josef Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev.
Three years ago, Putin confessed officials had considered using doubles for him, but he claimed it was rejected and said: ‘I discarded the idea of any doubles.’
He admitted the idea came up in the early 2000s when Russia was hit by terrorist attacks and it was suggested a lookalike should take his place at events where the head of state might be at risk.
Speaking at the time, he claimed: ‘This was during the toughest time of our war against terrorism.’
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