The health of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will turn 70 in October, is the subject of all sorts of rumours, revealing the lack of information on the well-being of the president, who ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
During his last two terms, almost nothing has leaked about his true state of health, except for images that seem to indicate that he is in great shape: Putin on horseback, Putin fishing without a shirt, Poutine in judoka…
But as the Russian president ages and his physique changes over the years – his face looks swollen, his movements sometimes seem tense – speculation about a possible illness is mounting.
What rumors are circulating?
Russian website Proekt has published the most comprehensive survey of Putin’s health. This independent media concluded that the president’s trips to his home in Sochi, on the Black Sea coast in recent years, coincided with the arrival of a large group of doctors.
Among them was a thyroid cancer specialist, Yevgeny Selivanov.
At that time, there were rumors of bloodbaths extracted from Siberian deer antlers, which supposedly improved life expectancy and sexual vigor, a method advocated by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, a native of Siberia.
According to the French weekly Paris Match, during visits to France in 2017 and Saudi Arabia in 2019, Putin was escorted to the toilets by a team responsible for collecting his excrement to avoid any samples that could give information on his state of health. .
Recently, the weekly Newsweek, citing US intelligence sources, claimed that Putin was treated in April for advanced cancer. The US National Security Council denied being the source of the information.
Ukraine’s intelligence chief, General Kyrylo Budanov, told Sky News that Putin had cancer.
What information is there?
The only time the Kremlin confirmed Putin had a health problem was in the fall of 2012, when he disappeared from the public eye and canceled meetings.
At the time, the Kremlin mentioned a muscle strain and a Russian newspaper pointed to back problems.
According to the Proekt page, it was during this period that significant health problems arose. The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the Russian president to behave strangely, observers say, reflecting his paranoia.
Officially, the head of state is vaccinated but, unlike most of his counterparts around the world, no image of him receiving his dose has ever been published.
Its visitors are subject to drastic precautionary measures, including quarantine days or in the case of French President Emmanuel Macron, a giant oval table that kept him away from the Russian leader during a tense meeting in the Kremlin.
Only visitors who agree to submit to the tests – which Macron refused – are allowed to approach Putin and shake his hand.
What does the Kremlin say?
The spokesman for the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, has always denied this information. “I don’t think anyone in their right mind can see in this person, Putin, signs of illness or any affectation,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told French channel TF1 in late May.
For his part, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Putin, said in a March interview on Japanese television: “If you think something is wrong with President Putin, you are the most unfortunate person in the world. world”.
In recent appearances, including a forum on Peter the Great and a meeting with Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, Putin has shown no signs of slowing down.
Because it matters?
Most observers believe Putin, with no clear successor in the Kremlin, will run again in 2024 after controversial constitutional changes allow him to run for a third term.
“The country does not have a grain of truth about the physical and emotional state of its president,” laments Proekt editor Roman Badanin.
“The whole planet doesn’t know if a person who can destroy humanity with the push of a red button is healthy,” he says.
And that could be key as he wages a bloody war in Ukraine, the outcome of which will mark the future of Europe.