According to media reports, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief has revived a theory that Russian President Vladimir Putin is using body doubles, pointing to his changing ears over time as proof.
Putin’s (69) health has been the subject of heated debate among commentators, according to the Daily Mail.
According to the report, his close ally Nikolai Patrushev is said to have stood in for the president during his medical appointments.
According to The Sun, Ukraine’s Major General Kyrylo Budanov appeared on TV this week to claim that Putin’s height and ears have changed in recent appearances.
He said: “The picture, let’s say, of the ears, is different… And it’s like a fingerprint, each person’s ear picture is unique. It cannot be repeated.”
Budanov further alleged that Putin body doubles “have different habits, different mannerisms, different gaits, sometimes even different heights if you looked closely”.
Budanov previously claimed that a body double for Vladimir Putin was used for his arrival at a summit in Tehran last month.
While the Russian president appeared awkward as he walked down the steps of his presidential plane in Tehran, Ukrainian sources said he moved unusually quickly and was more alert than in previous public appearances, according to the Daily Mail.
The Russian president greeted the waiting party with a smile before removing his jacket and climbing into a heavily armoured limousine.
Budanov expressed reservations about Putin’s appearance in a live interview on Ukraine’s 1+1 news channel.
According to Ukrainian media, Budanov suggested that a Putin impersonator could have flown to Tehran to meet with the presidents of Iran and Turkey.
“I will only hint. Please look at the moment of Putin’s exit from the plane. Is it Putin at all,” he asked.
The Russian president’s visit to Tehran, where he met with Iranian leaders as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, drew international attention.
Putin has only been abroad twice since launching his brutal invasion of Ukraine five months ago.
Erdogan kept Putin waiting in one video, with the Russian ruler appearing agitated as he shuffled his feet and made strange facial movements. However, Ukraine had previously stated that this was not a Putin double. ‘Erdogan made Putin wait during the meeting in Tehran,’ said official Anton Gerashchenko at the time, according to the Daily Mail.