The Russian president has created a careful narrative of virulent masculinity over a number of decades. However, a series of strange disappearances and a range of hush-hush doctor visits in the past five years seem to tell a different story.
An investigation by the independent Russian media outlet Proekt scrutinised the Russian President’s health since 2017, noting his absences and visits by specialist doctors.
The investigation found doctors accompanied Putin wherever he went during 2016 and 2017. By comparing doctors’ check-in dates with Putin’s schedule, Proekt found that between five and 13 doctors accompanied Putin at all times.
These medics included an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist, an infectious disease specialist, a neurosurgeon and an oncologist, among others according to the outlet.
In November 2016, Putin disappeared from the public eye for approximately six days and only appeared in pre-recorded meetings according to Proekt.
During this time, 12 specialist doctors checked into Sochi hospital, near one of Putin’s residences. These doctors included neurosurgeons, his personal doctors and a rehabilitation specialist.
The Russian leader then disappeared in August 2017 and again in February 2018. In February, the Kremlin claimed that Putin “had caught a cold”.
During the 2017 disappearance, top oncologist-surgeon Evgeny Selivanov began visiting Putin, according to Proekt. The outlet claimed that the cancer-doctor visited the Russian President 35 times in four years, with only ENT specialists seeing him more often.,
The doctor’s thesis is entitled: “Peculiarities of diagnostics and surgical treatment of elderly and senile patients with thyroid cancer”.
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In 2017, Putin, who is an avid hockey player, fell on the ice during a game. He was able to leave the arena on his own, although an orthopaedic traumatologist known to treat him checked into a hospital near his home following the incident.
Proekt reports that by 2019, Putin had an average of nine doctors accompanying him.
Finally, during the Covid pandemic, The New York Times reported Putin was imposing strict quarantine measures on anyone who was due to see him in person.
Anyone he met had to isolate for two weeks before meeting the president before walking through a disinfectant tunnel which sprayed them with a sterilising aerosol. The tunnels reportedly shined UV lights to further disinfect visitors.
More recently, videos of Putin looking bloated and puffy have further fuelled rumours about his health problems.
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Speaking anonymously to The Mirror, an oncologist claimed that the bloating could be a side effect of steroids and chemotherapy drugs.
Speculation on Putin’s health has now reached a fever pitch with intelligence officials, medical professionals and even Ukraine’s Government noting that something is off.
Most recently, a former MI6 officer told Sky News that Putin was “quite seriously ill” while Ukraine’s Intelligence Chief claimed that he was “very ill” with cancer.
A video emerged this week of the president staring at his twisted feet during a meeting.
Even Putin’s own oligarch claimed the Russian President was “very ill with blood cancer” in a recording obtained by New Lines Magazine.
Proekt claimed that the issue was more likely to be thyroid cancer due to the visits by ENTs.