Russia President Vladimir Putin (69) appeared to walk with a limp and sat with a blanket over his lap during the Victory Day commemorations in Moscow on Monday, raising fresh doubts over his health, Daily Mail reported.
The Russian leader attended the event, which commemorates Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945, to give a speech during which he projected an image of Russian strength and military might despite the faltering war in Ukraine.
But at several points – including as he left a speaking podium and went to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider to lay a wreath – Putin appeared to be walking with a heavy step, as if trying to disguise a limp, Daily Mail reported.
And, during the parade itself, he was seen sitting with a heavy blanket across his knees despite geriatric war veterans sitting around him with their laps uncovered, the report said.
On their own, either incident would be easy enough to dismiss, but taken together they will do little to dispel persistent rumours that Putin is suffering health issues.
Two years before he decided to invade Ukraine, rumours began swirling about Putin’s health, including suggestions that he had undergone cancer surgery.
Valery Solovei, a political analyst and a prominent Putin critic, began spreading the rumour in late 2020 while also suggesting he was suffering from Parkinson’s.
The rumours gained such traction that the Kremlin was forced to go on record and deny them, with Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisting his boss was in ‘excellent health’ and any rumour to the contrary was ‘complete nonsense’, Daily Mail reported.
But the whispering has steadfastly refused to die out and has intensified since the war in Ukraine began, with critics suggesting that Putin looks unwell in TV appearances and is noticeably puffy around his face.
Leaked footage of a meeting with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko in the early stages of the war also appeared to show pronounced arm and leg tremors.