Russian President Vladimir Putin undergoes new surgery
Days after former British spy Christopher Steele claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is "seriously ill," Express reported that he recently underwent a surgery to remove fluid from his abdomen. Attributing the information to the Telegram channel General SVR linked to Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service, the report mentioned that the operation "went well and without complications" and was not linked to cancer.
- Since invasion of Ukraine, rumors about Russian President Putin's health have intensified as he reportedly appeared frail at public events.
- Putin is said to be suffering from either Parkinson's disease or cancer.
- At last week's Victory Day parade, he was seen covering his legs with a thick green blanket to combat the relatively mild 9°C weather.
- The Russian president was reportedly spotted coughing.
The Express report said that because of the surgery "on the night of Thursday, May 12 to Friday, May 13," Putin missed a scheduled meeting with government officials. However, his presence was replaced by a pre-recorded video, according to the Telegram channel. The surgery and the president's subsequent recovery were covered up the following day using "deepfake" technology, the New York Post reported.
Kremlin reportedly arranged an experiment at Putin's meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council on Friday. "Needless to say, the experiment was a success. Some of the meeting participants were aware of what was happening, while the rest were so afraid of Putin that they could not allow the thought of 'substitution'," the Telegram post read.
Earlier, a Russian oligarch who has close ties with Putin was recorded as saying, "Putin is very ill with blood cancer." In the call recording, the unnamed oligarch reportedly discussed Putin's health with a Western venture capitalist and said Putin had surgery on his back for his blood cancer shortly before ordering the invasion of Ukraine. The president has gone "crazy," the oligarch added.
Reportedly, the oligarch can also be heard saying in the recording, "We all hope that Mr. Putin dies. He absolutely ruined Russia's economy, Ukraine's economy, and many other economies—ruined absolutely." "The problem is with his head. One crazy guy can turn the world upside down," he added. The oligarch's name has been kept anonymous.
Notably, the Kremlin has never commented on the reports of Putin's ill health. It is believed that the Kremlin has been tightly controlling his appearances and setting limits on his meetings to try and maintain his strongman persona.