Vladimir Putin has not been seen in public since 5th March. As time ticks by, the rumour mill builds in momentum, not least because two important engagements have been cancelled in this time. A visit to Kazakhstan did not go ahead last week, nor were meetings with officials of South Ossetia.
The Kremlin issued three official photographs of the Russian president with The Supreme Court Judge, Vyacheslav Lebedev. However, as their date could not be verified, few believed them to be genuinely recent.
New Europe Investor explains the seven plausible explanations for his absence, according to media reports.
At the time of writing, he has not been seen for nearly 11 days, the longest period in his 15 years at the upper echelons of Russian politics.
Where is Vladimir Putin?
1. He has Suffered a Stroke
Many media outlets have come to this conclusion based on the fact he has not been seen at all. Putin could have dispelled rumours and made an appearance with a minor illness. The Washington Post states that an anonymous letter claiming to be from an employee of an elite Moscow hospital, said that Putin had had a stroke and was languishing in the hospital.
2. He has had Cosmetic Surgery
The Russian word for Botox was trending across Twitter in Russia this week. Many believe that Vladimir Putin has already had treatment in the past. His skin is suspiciously smoother than it used to be, and the wrinkles under his eyes have miraculously disappeared. Many believe some form of cosmetic treatment may explain his absence.
3. Acoup in Moscow has him ‘neutralised’
The chairman of Russia’s Islamic Committee, Geydar Dzhemal, has said that the Russian President had been removed from power in a silent coup. He was quoted as saying on Georgian TV, “I think that Putin is neutralised at the moment, but of course, he is alive. He is under the control of the power-wielding agencies, who have, in my opinion, organised a coup d’etat.” He believes former security service chief, Nikolai Patrushev is behind the takeover.
4. He is in Switzerland Due to the Birth of his Love Child
Following the divorce from his previous wife, Lyudmila Shkrebneva, Vladimir Putin is believed to be in a relationship with 31 year old former Olympic gymnast, Alina Kabaeva. She has also been a member of parliament in Russia. Putin is believed to have hired two rooms at a Swiss clinic, one for her and one for body guards. The Russian President himself is also believed to be staying with friends in the area. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov, denied the story saying, “The information on a baby born to Vladimir Putin is false”. Source New York Post.
5. He is in bed with a bad cold
Russian TV channel, Dozhd reported that Putin merely has a bad cold and would be watching the documentary about Crimea from his bed on Sunday. TV Station, Rossiya 24 aired a documentary about the annexation of Crimea, which featured revealing interviews with Vladimir Putin himself. This explanation is also the official line from the Kremlin.
6. He has Back Problems
The Daily Express states that an Austrian newspaper reported, Vladimir Putin has back trouble. A specialist from Vienna has allegedly arrived in Moscow to treat him from an injury to his spine, received during a bout of wrestling.
7. He has Died
There is no doubt that Vladimir Putin untimely death at 62 is extremely improbable. However, such is the ferocity of the rumours, only his reappearance in can definitively dispel this.
Will he Appear on Monday?
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeatedly insists Putin is lying low at his official Valdai residence and is merely resting. He was quoted as saying, “I am going to ask people who have money to organize a contest on the best media rumor.”
Perhaps that should go to the fake twitter account which suggested that Putin was in North Korea for a judo match with Kim Jong Un.
On Monday 16th March, Putin is due to meet Almazbek Atambayev, the President of Kyrgyzstan in Saint Petersburg.
The world will be watching.