Recent images of Vladimir Putin with ‘black hands’ has prompted some to suggest that the Russian leader is unwell. AP
The Russia-Ukraine war has entered the 252nd day and it seems there’s no end in sight for this long, ugly war. Since the early days of the war, there has been a lot of speculation about Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin’s motivations behind it; while some said the war was political, there were some who said it was Putin’s last wish, as his health was deteriorating.
Now, the 70-year-old Russian president’s health has becoming a talking point again with some eagle-eye observers revealing that there are strange marks and colour on Putin’s hands, indicating that he is suffering from some kind of disease.
So, is the Russian strongman in the pink of health? Or is he suffering from some debilitating illness?
Does Putin have cancer?
The issue of Putin being unwell came to the fore yet again on Tuesday when UK’s former chief of the defence staff and member of the House of Lords Richard Danatt talked about the issue of Putin’s health while appearing on a programme on Sky News. He told the outlet that it is worth reflecting how healthy — or not — is the Russian president.
“Keen observers now are noticing that his hands are looking pretty black on top, which is a sign of injections going in when other parts of the body can’t take injections,” Lord Dannatt told the outlet.
“It’s interesting to note that, and just to watch whether he is as fit and well as he would like to portray. It’s an interesting area to keep an eye on,” he added.
The comments are in line with an American intelligence report in June stating that Vladimir Putin’s health is suffering and that he’s being treated for cancer.
“Putin is definitely sick,” an official from the office of the Director of National Intelligence had been quoted as saying, “whether he’s going to die soon is mere speculation.”
The assessment added that Putting was undergoing treatment for advanced cancer.
Other health problems?
This isn’t the first time that Putin’s health has come under the scanner. Ever since he launched the war in Ukraine, several Western media outlets have reported that the Russian leader is suffering from all sorts of diseases — from Parkinson’s to mental health problems.
“On any given day, depending which news outlets you believe, the Russian president is terminally ill with any number of different diseases,” said Katie Stallard at The New Statesman. “Or perhaps, as several British tabloids have suggested recently, he is already dead.”
Earlier in May, Hollywood film director Oliver Stone had said on a podcast that Putin was a cancer patient in remission.
“Remember this, Mr Putin has had this cancer and I think he’s (recovered),” said Stone, becoming the first person directly linked to the Russian to acknowledge his supposed health problems.
Ukrainian intelligence has also in the past made sweeping claims about Putin’s health. “We completely confirm this information (that Putin has cancer),” Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, told online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda in May. “He has several severe diseases, including cancer. But we shouldn’t hope that Putin will die tomorrow. He has at least several years ahead whether we like it or not.”
In April, a video reportedly from a midnight mass for Orthodox Easter emerged in which Putin looked frail. The video reportedly showed him chewing his lips and appearing shaky as he stood next to Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin at Christ the Saviour Cathedral in the capital.
Another video in the same week showed the Russian president tightly gripping the table with his hand as he is sitting down. Putin sits with hunched shoulders and regularly fidgets and taps his toes during a meeting with his Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol during the nearly 12-minute video, according to the New York Post.
“Putin’s meeting with Shoigu today shows both depressed & seemingly in bad health,” tweeted Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist who was previously an adviser to Russia.
Putin’s meeting with Shoigu today shows both depressed & seemingly in bad health. Shoigu has to read his comments to Putin & slurs badly, suggesting that the rumors of his heart attack are likely. He sits badly. Poor performance. Worth watching.https://t.co/SHRRxZxbJf
— Anders Åslund (@anders_aslund) April 21, 2022
There’s also the investigative report published by Project, a Russian media outlet, which states that Putin has obsessed about his health for long and is regularly accompanied by five doctors on average. The report states that one of the doctors was Yevgeny Selivanov, a thyroid cancer specialist, giving rise to Putin’s cancer claims.
The health rumours clash with Vladimir Putin’s macho, strongman persona that he has cultivated over the years. AFP
Putin, the tough guy
In his 23 years at the top, Putin has cultivated an image of masculinity and vitality through a number of photo-ops and favourable write-ups by the Kremlin.
Who can forget images of him bareback horse-riding or playing ice-hockey or pinning his opponents on the mat during Judo competitions or even pumping iron at the gym!
Over the years, he has cultivated a swashbuckling public image. However, the recent health reports are bound to make people question his strongman persona and his ability to lead the country in the long war as it enters the biting cold.
The Kremlin’s denials of Putin being sick also hasn’t done anything to stop the claims from circulating further.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: November 02, 2022 16:52:27 IST