The 63-year-old strongman hasn’t been seen alive and well since July 1, when he warned Finland against joining NATO at a summit.
Since then, he’s pulled out of a meeting on tourism in the Southern Russian region of Altai, postponing the meeting for an “indefinite period”.He then failed to show up as expected for the opening ceremony of the sixth International Sports Games for the Children of Asia in the Siberian city of Yakutsk.
GETTY CANCELLED: Putin was set to fly in to Yakutsk for the opening ceremony of a sports event
“The president wants to focus and not be distracted”
Further meetings scheduled for yesterday were cancelled in Veliky Novgorod, between St Petersburg and Moscow, where he was due to visit the fertiliser firm Akron.
Now the various cancellations are fuelling speculation about Putin’s whereabouts, with some saying he’s dead, others deposed and more saying he’s just taking some time out.
Russian news station RBC said it was told by an assistant secretary of the president that he was away on a business trip and would be back on Monday.
Yegor Borisov, who governs the Sakha region from Yakutsk, told the channel that Putin “has a specific schedule that has the ability to change”.
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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides a horse during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia
While Russian newspaper Gazeta said the cancellations were down to the “international situation” particularly in Turkey and Abkhazia.Russia recently agreed to bury the hatchet with Turkey, which shot down one of its planes in a territorial dispute in November.And Abkhazia, a disputed region which Georgia and Russia both lay claim to, has been rocked by riots relating to an upcoming referendum.The self-proclaimed state is due to vote on whether it should hold an early presidential election amid dissatisfaction with current leader Raul Khajimba.
Putin-backing Mr Khajimba is accused of intentionally scheduling the vote too early to allow a full-on campaign, leading to riots which the President said put them brink of “chaos”.The Kremlin source told Gazeta: “The international agenda today came to the fore. There is building relations with Turkey and discuss the situation with Abkhazia, which aggravated the situation.“In this regard shall be additional meetings and activities, including with the participation of the Security Council.“The president wants to focus and not be distracted. Regional travel will be moved to August and September, closer to the election.”
GETTY WARPATH: Russian soldiers roll across the abandoned Georgian border towards Abkhazia in 2008
It’s not the first time Vladimir Putin has sparked death rumours by disappearing from the public eye.Last year he spent an unprecedented 10 days away from the cameras, fuelling wild speculation about his whereabouts.And things only got crazier when the Kremlin released photos to show he was alive that were found to have predated his disappearance.
Russia’s hardman leader Vlad is not the man we all thought him to be according to shocking theories which state the former KGB spook has actually been dead since 2014.Putin has remained a thorn in the side of the West as he made it his mission to return Russia to glory – first being made President back in 1999.But the current Vlad – who recently boasted Russia is now the most powerful country in the world – could actually be a doppleganger, according to conspiracy theories.
GETTYBODY DOUBLE?: Vladimir Putin has changed a lot over the years – but is he the same Vlad?
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“Life would be boring without gossip”
Theorists claim dramatic changes in Putin’s appearance, apparent inconsistencies in his ability to speak German, and a divorce from his wife are all “proof” the Russian President is not the real Vlad.
Astonishing claims circulated online – and explored in YouTube videos viewed hundreds of thousands of times and dozens of blogs and articles – assert the current Putin is a double most likely under the control of the CIA.
Claims about when he was replaced vary – with some saying he was poisoned in the halls of the Kremlin after annexing Crimea in 2014.
While other says he was quietly replaced in a secret coup in 2015 when Vlad mysteriously was not seen in public for 10 days between March 5 and March 15.
GETTYLYUDMILA PUTIN: An interview apparently with Putin’s ex reveals he is dead – it is claimed
GETTYYOUNG VLAD: Putin looks very different from his younger days as a KGB agent
Putin announced a divorce from his wife in 2014, just after some conspiracy theorists – such as self-described “historian” Patrick Scrivener – claim he was killed in the Kremlin.An article circulated online – reportedly originally published in a German newspaper in 2015 – features strange quotes attributed to Lyudmila Putin which seems to support the theory of the death of Vlad.She is claimed to have said: ”My husband, unfortunately, has long been dead.“I have to admit it publicly, because I could no longer see what is happening on his behalf. It’s terrible people.”
The authenticity of the interview is unverified.
Conspiracy theorist Scrivener claims “the one person who could expose the fake very conveniently disappeared” when referring to Putin’s divorce in April 2014.
GETTYIRON VLAD: Putin has never outright denied that he is dead
GETTYRUSSIA: Do Russians prefer the original Vlad or the new Vlad?
Scrivener – who also claims Abraham Lincoln’s murder was an inside job – goes on to claim Putin’s ability to speak German has also changed.Putin famously speaks fluent German and studied the language as a youth at Saint Petersburg High School.But images in 2014 showed him appearing to be using an interpreter while at a press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel.Putin is wearing an earpiece in pictures, suggesting he is listening to a translation – something he would not need to do if he could speak German.
GETTYYOUNG VLAD: Putin was once steely and gaunt
GETTYRUMBLED: Does Vladimir Putin know online theorists are onto him?
Freelance journalist Jim Stone claims pictures before and after Putin’s disappearance show it is a different man leading Russia.He said the new Putin has a his “header rounder, nose fatter and shorter, dimple missing, lips thicker, mouth larger and a serious double chin”.Pictures of Putin in his youth do show a dramatic shift in his appearance.But there are also reports Vlad has at some point had plastic surgery – however conspiracy theorists argue this could just be a cover.
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Source // Daily Star UK