He stated that the organization has nothing to do with Freemasons or Knights Templar and that it is
“not an occult organization.” Solovey also said that being a member of this community allows him “to be integrated into fairly wide circles of the establishment, not only in Russia, but also in the European and North American parts of the Ecumene.”
Although Solovey’s image is even more exotic than that of the anonymous Telegram channel, Western media outlets often quote him. For example, shortly before the Russian leader’s 70th birthday last year, Solovey made a “sensational statement” which was then quoted by the Daily Mail.
Solovey claimed that Putin intends to take the whole world along with him when he dies, and has supposedly already decided to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. He stated that the current situation is more dangerous and closer to a “nuclear apocalypse” than the Cuban missile crisis during the Cold War.
The publication also claimed that Russian Orthodox churches were ordered to hold special prayer services for the president’s health.
The Mirror also refers to Solovey’s claims about the consistently “deteriorating health” of the Russian leader. The publication notes that, like General SVR, Solovey says that Putin suffers from serious diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and schizoaffective disorder.
In March, based on Solovey’s claims, The Mirror wrote that Putin had lost a lot of weight and nurses were using cotton padding to conceal this from the public.
The article was complemented by recent photos of Putin. In the images he looks quite healthy. In one, the president is shown during a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping – the two leaders shake hands and Putin smiles.
In addition to these sources, the Mirror had previously cited former head of MI6 [the UK Secret Intelligence Service] Richard Dearlove, who in September of last year claimed that the Russian leader would resign from his post by 2023 due to health problems.
The Hill also referred to Solovey’s predictions, saying that Putin is terminally ill and will not make it past the fall of this year.
Valery Solovei Rumors about body doubles
Along with rumors about the Russian president’s supposedly rapidly deteriorating health, another popular story is that the Kremlin often turns to Putin’s body doubles for various reasons.
The idea that Putin has several of these – who allegedly substituted for him during recent public appearances and some meetings with foreign leaders – is spread by Solovey, who is quoted by Western media.
For example, citing certain observers, the Daily Mail reports that the physical appearance of the Russian leader has changed over the years, which it clams may be considered evidence of the fact that he resorts to body doubles when it comes to engagements that he does not want to make or considers too dangerous.
One of the actively circulating rumors is that during the president’s recent trip to Dagestan, a “fake” Putin came out to greet the crowd.
At the same time, the Kremlin has repeatedly assured the public that Putin does not have any doubles. For example, on Tuesday, Peskov said that such statements merely make Kremlin officials laugh.
“No. There are no doubles – in regard to work and so on. This fits the category of absurd information canards which are being persistently discussed by a number of media outlets. Of course, it only makes [us] smile,” Peskov said.
Back in 2020, Putin said in an interview with TASS that he does not have any body doubles. According to the president, the idea was proposed to him for safety reasons in the early 2000s, but he refused it.
“[The idea] came up, but I refused body doubles. This was during some of the most difficult times in the fight against terrorism,” the president said. Putin said that in the early 2000s, there were proposals to have someone replace him at events that were deemed unsafe for the head of state, but he claimed to have never resorted to body doubles. The rumors have not been confirmed
Much speculation about the president’s ill health has originated in Ukraine. For example, in January, the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kirill Budanov, talked about Putin having a supposed incurable illness and warned of his imminent death in an interview with ABC News. This statement was picked up by many media outlets, including the Daily Mail. At the same time, the publication noted that Budanov’s claims were not supported by any evidence. According to Budanov, the intelligence service knows about the president’s cancer “from sources.”
In December 2018, during the annual press conference, Putin commented on rumors about his health and said that it was no different from the average person’s.
Responding to the question about how he feels, the president joked:
“Don’t even hope! [that something’s wrong].” “I exercise and [my health] is fine, thank God. I try to take care of it. But just like everyone else, in between seasons I may get the flu or other things like that. As of today, I’m fine,” Putin said.
Rumors about Putin’s health have also been refuted in the West. In July of last year, CIA Director William Burns said that Putin was quite healthy.
“There are lots of rumors about President Putin’s health and as far as we can tell, he’s entirely too healthy. This is not a formal intelligence judgment,” he said.
Shortly before that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in an interview with the French TV channel TF1, noted that the Russian leader appears in public almost every day and everyone can watch him on [TV and other] screens and listen to his speeches.
“I don’t think that sane people can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment. I leave it to the conscience of those who spread such rumors,” he said.
James Nixey, Director of Russia-Eurasia programs at Chatham House, told The Independent, that the General SVR channel is known to spread disinformation and, moreover, in his opinion,
“is in the service of the Russian state.”
Although Putin’s health was under close scrutiny even before the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Nixey called the frequent reports about his condition a result of “wishful thinking.”
“71 years old is the average life expectancy of Russian men. He is not the average man. He’ll have much better healthcare than anyone else and he appears not to be a heavy drinker compared to his predecessors. I think it’s safe to assume he’s in reasonably good health for a 71-year-old male,” Nixey said. By Christina Sizova, a Moscow-based reporter focused on politics, sociology and international relations
paradox. All rights reserved.