SINCE Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the 69-year-old Russian President’s deteriorating health has been a subject of wild speculation. Although, it’s still not clear what exactly his illness is – whether it’s curable or incurable. While reports of Vladimir Putin’s deteriorating health were making rounds on the internet, an oligarch with close ties to the Russian leader has reportedly been recorded as saying that Putin is very ill with blood cancer.
The New Lines Magazine via audio recording claimed that an oligarch close to the Kremlin said that Putin is “suffering from blood cancer and is very ill”.
Christopher Steele, a former British spy, has also claimed that Putin is seriously ill. Steele, who wrote a dossier on Donald Trump and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election campaign, had told Sky News, “Certainly, from what we’re hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, is that Putin is, in fact, quite seriously ill.”
Earlier this month, Western media outlets reported that Putin will undergo treatment and surgery for cancer. It was also reported that Putin will hand over the power to his Security Council head and ex-FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev while he will be dealing with the surgery. These extraordinary claims appeared on a popular Telegram channel called “General SVR”, which had 18 months ago reported that Putin has abdominal cancer and Parkinson’s.
Since the Ukraine war and the time when the Russian leader looked frail at public events, including the Victory Day celebrations last week, there have been intense speculations around the Russian President’s declining health.
The world saw Putin walking with a limp during a pro-war rally in March and was seen having his legs covered with a thick green cover as he sat among Second World War veterans and senior dignitaries to watch a military parade in Moscow’s Red Square during Victory Day celebrations last week.
The New Lines Magazine also claimed to know the identity of the oligarch, who was heard speaking in the recording. However, they did not disclose his identity due to the high probability that disclosing his name would lead to state retaliation against him. The magazine also stated in the article that the conversation was taped without the oligarch’s foreknowledge or consent.
The Russian oligarh, in the recorded audio (recorded during a meeting in mid-March), was heard saying, “He (Putin) absolutely ruined Russia’s economy, Ukraine’s economy and many other economies – ruined [them] absolutely.”
“The problem is with his head… One crazy guy can turn the world upside down.”
The oligarch also criticised the pretext that Putin put forward before invading Ukraine. He condemned the Russian President for falsely claiming that Russia was going inside Ukraine to hunt for ‘Nazis’ and ‘fascists’. He also blamed Putin for the killing of “more than 15,000 Russian soldiers and 5,000 civilians in Ukraine.”
Truth Or The Russian Tactic Of Spreading Disinformation
While the report can serve as the first substantial evidence of Putin’s deteriorating health condition, some believe that it may also be a part of a disinformation campaign led by the Kremlin – a tactic Russia is well-known for using.
Quoting John Sipher, a former CIA officer, the News Lines also reported that Russia through the spread of this disinformation is trying to deflect the attention of the masses.
“Putin has long acted as the de facto mafia boss of the Kremlin, the arbiter between those fighting for influence or money. Those clans are now positioning themselves to survive no matter how this crisis ends. Leaking Putin’s health crisis – or inventing one – would be one to gain leverage,” the CIA officer noted.