Some say that Vladimir Putin would take baths in blood extracted from Siberian buckskin. A method recommended by his Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and supposed to improve life expectancy and sexual vigor. And according to the French weekly Paris Matchduring visits to France in 2017 and Saudi Arabia in 2019, the Russian head of state was escorted, when he went to the toilets, by a team responsible for collecting his excrement in order to avoid any sample likely to give information about his state of health.

In short, there are a whole bunch of crazy (but plausible) rumors surrounding the health of Vladimir Putin. Despite this, no one can really say how the head of state, who will celebrate his 70th birthday in October, is doing. Indeed, during his two decades of reign, almost nothing has leaked on his real health conditions, except the display of a virility and a brilliant form. Poutine on horseback, Poutine fishing shirtless, Poutine as a judoka.

Thyroid cancer?

But Vladimir Putin cannot fight against time and the photos show it, his physique has changed over the years – his face appears swollen, his movements sometimes seem tense – speculation is starting up again. Among them, a slightly more in-depth investigation published in April by the Russian-language site Proekt. Based on open sources, the site observes that in recent years, the president’s trips to his dacha in Sochi, on the shores of the Black Sea, coincide with the movement of an armada of doctors, including a cancer specialist from thyroid, Yevgeny Selivanov.

A hypothesis supported by the weekly Newsweek, which citing American intelligence sources, claimed that he had been treated in April for advanced cancer. But the US National Security Council has denied being the source of this information. For his part, the head of Ukrainian intelligence, General Kyrylo Budanov, told Sky News that Putin had cancer.

A paranoid Covid president

The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked strange behavior in the Russian president, reflecting, according to observers, his paranoia. Officially, the Head of State is vaccinated but, unlike the majority of his counterparts on the planet, no image of him receiving his dose has ever been published.

Its visitors are subject to drastic precautionary measures, including quarantine days. And everyone remembers the huge table separating the head of the Kremlin from his foreign guests, notably French President Emmanuel Macron during a visit in February before the start of the war. Only those willing to submit to the tests are allowed to approach and shake Vladimir Putin’s hand.

The Kremlin once admitted a muscle strain

The first and only time the Kremlin confirmed a health issue was in the fall of 2012, when the Russian leader disappeared from public view and canceled meetings. The Russian government had then mentioned a muscle strain and a Russian newspaper had reported back problems. According to the Proekt website, it was during this period that major health problems appeared.

“I don’t believe that anyone with all his senses can see in this person (Vladimir Putin) signs of any disease or ailment,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in late May on the French channel TF1. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, an ally of Vladimir Putin, did the same in a March interview with Japanese television. “If you think something is wrong with President Putin, you are the most pitiful person in the world.”

Why so much mystery?

The majority of observers believe that Vladimir Putin, master of the Kremlin with no obvious successor, will run again in 2024 after controversial constitutional changes allowing him to run for a third term.

“The country does not have the slightest grain of truth about the physical and emotional condition of its president,” laments Proekt editor-in-chief Roman Badanin. “The whole planet doesn’t know if a person who can destroy humanity by pushing a red button is healthy.”

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