Russian President Vladimir Putin has been deploying body doubles at recent public outings to hide health problems, said a Ukrainian military official who claimed that the decoys have different ears than the strongman.
Ukrainian military intelligence chief Major General Kyrylo Budanov suggested on Ukrainian television this week that Putin’s ears looked different across several of the leader’s public appearances.
“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,” he said, according to a Newsweek account of Ukrainian TV.
But Budanov said that wasn’t all that was amiss.
“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 about the body doubles, however, was not the first time that the rumor has been floated.
The International Business Times called it “one of the more unusual conspiracy theories” back in 2018, when a Twitter user cited three photographs of Putin across time to suggest that the ex-KGB spy was in fact three different people.
Budanov, this week, explained the supposed use of body doubles by pointing to widespread speculation that the Russian leader is gravely ill.
But the head of the CIA–as well as Britain’s MI6 chief–both cast doubt on those reports recently, stating at last month’s Aspen Security Forum that the Russian leader is apparently quite healthy.