Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday, February 27, revealed there was a secret plan to use a double to make public appearances for him, while insisting he vetoed it — and that he is the real Putin.
Putin’s comments showed that a conspiracy theory widespread on the internet that the Russian leader has been impersonated over the years or even replaced by a lookalike is not entirely without basis.
TASS state news agency showed Putin a list of popular Russian-language Internet searches including “Putin double proof”. “Are you real?” the interviewer asked.
“I refused to have doubles,” Putin said. “It was during the hardest times of the fight against terrorism.”
Putin as prime minister and then president oversaw the second war against separatists in Chechnya from 1999 to 2000.
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These centered on the 67-year-old’s apparent lack of signs of aging, the disappearance of bags under his eyes and his seemingly worsening knowledge of German, which he learned when working as a Soviet agent in East Germany.
In 2015, Putin disappeared from public view for 10 days, unleashing a frenzy of speculation that he had once again become a father, been deposed in a palace coup, fallen ill, had cosmetic surgery or even died.
“It’s boring without gossip,” Putin said after reappearing.