Video suggesting Vladimir Putin is using body doubles goes viral after Mariupol visit
Words and video by Jossie Evans, ITV News' Here's the Story
A video suggesting Vladimir Putin is using body doubles has gone viral and thrust the conspiracy theory into the limelight.
The idea is nothing new, some Russians online have long suggested the president could be using decoys to attend key events and meetings.
Some claim Putin is doing it to protect himself from threats as he grows ever more suspicious and isolated, others say it's because he's secretly severely unwell - or even, on the wilder end of the speculation, dead.
Now a new video breaking down the Russian leader's recent trip to the occupied city of Mariupol in Ukraine has illustrated the theory in minute detail.
The 31-second clip breaks down what are believed to be inconsistencies in the Putin that toured Mariupol, compared to other times the president's been seen publicly recently.
The video says a ledge on his earlobe is constantly changing, as well as the position of a mole on his face.
It claims Putin's wrinkles on his forehead go from being "straight" in one appearance to "small and interrupted in another". It says: "This is impossible even if he had botox injections."
Another moment in the video points to his chin and jaw with the subtitle: "What’s up with your chin, Putin? They forgot to put in his jaw."
Some Ukrainians have backed the theory and used it to mock the Russian leader.
Interior Minister advisor Anton Gerashchenko tweeted three images of Putin side-by-side and asked: "Which one do you think is the real one?"
ITV News has previously put these claims to the Kremlin and while it's never commented directly on the theories, it did say that Putin running for re-election in 2024 was "not an issue" on its agenda. "Of course, we are all thinking about the future. But this is not an urgent issue right now. We are preoccupied with different things," Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
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