The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t been seen in over a year and the Kremlin has been using a series of doubles in his place, the UK Express reported.
Maj-Gen Kyrylo Budanov, the chief of Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Defense Ministry, said in an interview with Radio Svoboda last week that the real Vladimir Putin was last seen in late June of last year.
As proof that Putin is now being played by a double, Budanov referred to a video clip of Putin from a meeting held just one day before Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a crash. In the footage, Putin is seen glancing at his left wrist before realizing that his watch is on his right wrist.
When asked if the clip showed the real Vladimir Putin, Budanov suggested that they should leave it up to everyone else to decide. When he was asked if he believed that Putin was still alive, Budanov said he didn’t know the answer.
In January, Budanov told ABC News correspondent Britt Clennett that Kyiv believes that Putin suffers from cancer and will likely “die very quickly.”
Last fall, Budanov suggested that Putin has been using at least three body doubles to stand in for him, each of whom has undergone plastic surgery to look more like the Russian president.
According to Budanov, Ukrainian intelligence detected these body doubles standing in for Putin at some events and special occasions and has identified three of the stand-ins but said there might be others.
Budanov said the height of the body doubles “gives them away.” In addition to the varying height, the doubles can also be identified through their body language, gestures, and earlobes.
In March, another rumor about a Putin body double erupted after images purportedly showing Putin visiting Mariupol appeared on social media. However, a fact-check by Reuters determined that social media posts miscaption pictures of the Russian president with false locations and dates.