The-Sun | Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin may have used a body double for his arrival at a summit in Tehran this week, the head of Ukrainian intelligence said.
Putin, 69, bounced along the red carpet with his arm hanging limp by his side after shuffling down the steps of his presidential jet.
But the animated warmonger – who is rumoured to have Parkinson’s or terminal cancer – appeared to walk faster than usual, and seemed more alert than in previous public appearances and footage, Ukrainian sources said.
Major General Kyrylo O. Budanov told Ukraine’s 1+1 news channel he was sceptical about Putin’s energetic appearance – in a nod to reports the president may already be using body doubles and pre-recorded appearances to hide his poor health.
“I will only hint,” Budavov said in the interview.
“Please look at the moment of Putin’s exit from the plane. Is it Putin at all?”
The Russian leader met Iran’s leadership and hardline Islamist tyrant Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, with whom he was expected to discuss war plans and weapon exchanges in their coordinated campaign against the West.
It was Putin’s first trip outside the boundaries of the former Soviet Union since the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Khamenei – sworn enemy of the US, UK and Israel – is one of only a handful of world leaders still willing to do business with blood-soaked outcast Putin.
Turkey’s strongman president Recep Tayyip Erdogan – blasted over human rights abuses and strained relations with NATO allies – joined the pair for talks.
But a humiliated Putin was forced to wait an excruciating 48 seconds for Erdogan to enter the room for their photo-op – seen as a withering dig at the Russian leader.
Putin has described Western sanctions as a declaration of economic war – and is also attempting to build bridges with China and India.
Suspicions over Putin’s use of body doubles come two years after he first admitted he had considered using them, but has since then said he had dropped the idea.
“I discarded the idea of any doubles,” he said.
Putin’s health has been subject to huge scrutiny in the wake of the war in Ukraine, and rumours continued to mount in the wake of last month’s military parade when the tyrant was seen with a blanket over his legs.