Russian President Vladimir Putin has deployed doubles on recent public outings to hide health issues, said a Ukrainian military official who claimed the decoys had different ears than the strongman.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, suggested on Ukrainian television this week that Putin’s ears had changed during several of the leader’s public appearances.
“The image of, say, the ears, is different. And it’s like a fingerprint, each person’s ear image is unique. This cannot be repeated,” he said, according to a Newsweek account from Ukrainian television.
But Budanov said that wasn’t all that was wrong.
“They [Putin’s body doubles] have different habits, different mannerisms, different gaits, sometimes even different heights, if you look closely,” he said.
Budanov’s theory of body doubles, however, was not the first time the rumor mill had been rumored.
The International Business Times called it “one of the most unusual conspiracy theories” in 2018, when a Twitter user cited three photographs of Putin from across time to suggest the ex-Brazilian spy KGB was actually three different people.
Budanov this week explained the supposed use of look-alikes by pointing to widespread speculation that the Russian leader is gravely ill.
But the head of the CIA – as well as the head of Britain’s MI6 – have recently cast doubt on that information, saying at the Aspen Security Forum last month that the Russian leader was apparently in good health.