The Kremlin has made an extraordinary denial of “lies” that Vladimir Putin, 71, “died in his luxurious forest palace in Valdia” – claiming a “coup” was underway in Moscow.
This came after a Telegram channel that had been claiming for months that the Russian leader had cancer and was terminally ill announced that Putin had died.
It further claimed that a “coup” was underway in Russia as Putin’s inner circle sought to pass off his “body double” as the real president.
But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state press RIA Novosti that the report was an “absurd information conspiracy.”
Earlier this week he strongly denied that Putin had suffered a heart attack last weekend and said reports that the Russian president had used a look-alike were false.
A Telegram channel that has claimed for months that the Russian leader had cancer and was terminally ill announced that Putin (pictured) had died
But Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov (left) told state press RIA Novosti that the report was an “absurd distortion of information.”
Vladimir Putin’s alleged palace in Valdai, Russia, where a Telegram channel claimed he died
One theory on the Telegram channel is that it is funded by people once close to Putin who have lost ground, and that the hoax is evidence of an intense struggle for power as Russia fights its war in Ukraine.
There are allegations that elements of the GRU military intelligence agency may be involved.
The full Telegram post read: “Attention! There is currently a coup attempt in Russia!
“Russian President Vladimir Putin died this evening at his residence in Valdai.
“At 8:42 p.m. Moscow time, doctors stopped resuscitation and declared death.”
“Now the doctors are locked in the room with Putin’s body, they are being held by members of the presidential security service on Dmitry Kochnev’s personal orders.” [director of the Federal Guard Service]who is in contact and receives instructions with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai Patrushev.
“Security has been beefed up for the president’s doppelganger.”
“Active negotiations are underway.”
“Any attempt to pose as president after Putin’s death is a coup.”
Nikolai Patrushev, 72, is secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council and Putin’s top intelligence adviser.
The Telegram channel claimed he was in the best position to succeed the president but may want power for his son, 46-year-old Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev.
The channel has claimed for months that Putin was ill and had been replaced by actors trained by the security services who had undergone plastic surgery to look like the Russian leader.
The same theory was put forward by Valery Solovey, a former professor at the prestigious Moscow Institute of International Relations, a training academy for spies and diplomats.
He recently said: “The fact is that current President Vladimir Putin is living out the last days of his earthly life.”
Nikolai Patrushev (left), 72, is secretary of Russia’s powerful Security Council and Putin’s top intelligence adviser. The Telegram channel claimed that he was in the best position to succeed the president
But Patrushev may want power for his son, 46-year-old Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev
“I can tell you that there are no doubles when it comes to work, etc.,” spokesman Peskov said earlier this week. Specifically about Putin’s alleged heart problems, Peskov said: “He’s fine – that’s just another nonsense.”
The head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, claimed that the real Putin had not been seen since June 2022.
“The one that everyone knew was last seen around June 26, 2022,” he said last month.
A recent Japanese television report used AI to analyze Putin’s face, gait and voice during several appearances and concluded that he actually uses one or perhaps two body doubles.
“I can tell you that there are no doubles when it comes to work, etc.,” spokesman Peskov said earlier this week.
Specifically about the heart problems, Peskov said: “He’s fine – that’s just another nonsense.”
The speaker said: “This one [kinds of stories] belong to the category of fake news, which is discussed with enviable persistence by numerous media outlets.
“It brings nothing but a smile.” [in the Kremlin].’
In April, Peskov admitted that there were numerous reports of Putin’s doppelganger, but claimed that the warmonger was “megaactive.”
“You may have heard that Putin has several doppelgangers working in his place while he sits in a bunker,” he said.
“That’s more lies.” That’s another lie. You see our president. “He’s just like he used to be – super active.”
The channel is reportedly run by a former Kremlin lieutenant general who goes by the alias Viktor Mikhailovich.
It claims that Putin’s top apparatchiks and security henchmen control the doppelgängers’ activities.
It is dismissed by most political analysts as being run by conspiracy theorists.
The claim comes amid reports that Putin is preparing to announce in days that he will run in next year’s presidential election and seek a new six-year term.
Putin reportedly shares his Valdai Palace with his secret partner Alina Kabaeva, an Olympic gold medalist in rhythmic gymnastics, and her young family.