Russian President Vladimir Putin is healthy and does not use body doubles for public appearances, a Kremlin spokesperson said Tuesday, following claims on social media suggesting Putin—whose health has been speculated on in recent years—suffered a heart attack over the weekend.
Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that “everything is fine” with Putin, 71, according to Reuters, after the Russian channel General SVR suggested—without evidence—that Putin had suffered from a cardiac arrest on Sunday.
Peskov also denied claims that Putin uses body doubles because of his health or security reasons, indicating the rumors are part of “absurd information hoaxes.”
The Telegram channel—claiming to cite former members of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service—claimed earlier on Tuesday that a body double of Putin held a phone conversation with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva while the “real” Putin was in an “intensive care ware in his residence.”
The channel also suggested that the double will “temporarily” represent Putin in public appearances.
“This belongs to the category of absurd information hoaxes that a whole series of media discuss with enviable tenacity,” Peskov said, adding, “This evokes nothing but a smile.”
The Telegram channel General SVR emerged in 2020, according to Insider, and appears to base its claims on sources from Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, and other Russian state bodies. A spokesperson declined to identify the account’s sources over security concerns, indicating the channel had “complete confidence” in them and “never let us down.” In recent years, the channel has made claims about Putin’s allegedly declining health and how he utilizes body doubles. Putin previously denied claims that he uses body doubles in a 2020 interview with the Russian state-run news agency Tass, suggesting he had been offered body doubles in the past and had denied each offer. Other government officials have speculated on Putin’s health, including two Ukrainian officials who claimed earlier this year that Putin was undergoing chemotherapy, according to the New York Times. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC last year that “some say [Putin] has cancer, and some people say brain fog from Covid.” William Burns, director of the CIA, subsequently said the agency determined Putin was “entirely too healthy,” while Richard Moore, head of Britain’s MI6, said there was “no evidence that Putin is suffering from serious illness.”
Other instances of government officials using body doubles or impersonators have previously been confirmed. Winston Lord, a former aide to former National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, told CNN in 2008 that a secret service agent impersonated Kissinger during a trip to China in 1972.