Is Vladimir Putin sick?

Rumors of an alleged serious illness of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, lead the political and intelligence analyzes on the internal situation of the Kremlin at a time when new changes are expected in Moscow’s strategy in its war campaign in Ukraine ahead of the significant date of May 9. Such rumors have even pointed to Nikolai Patrushev, one of the Kremlin’s hawks and a strongman of Russian counterintelligence for a decade, as a possible temporary replacement for Putin. Patrushev is one of the architects of the Moscow security doctrine and one of the Russian politicians most critical of a West whom he considers ultimately responsible for the current crisis in Ukraine.

The latest speculation about Putin’s health stems from the warning issued by the Russian channel General SVR, on Telegram, broadcast for a few days and then removed from the platform. According to General SVR, Putin will soon undergo a surgical operation to stop the supposed cancer that he would suffer and for a time he would have to withdraw from power.

According to a Telegram channel, Putin will soon undergo a surgical operation to tackle the alleged cancer he would suffer

The channel is the work of an alleged former high-ranking spy, precisely from the Russian foreign intelligence, the SVR, and who writes his notes under the pseudonym of Victor Mikhailovich. This former agent, a lieutenant general according to the data that he has been leaking about himself, would have been informed about the Putin’s medical contingency by doctors close to the president, who told him that the seriousness of the matter would lead the Russian president to leave the helm of the country during the short period of time of the operation and his corresponding recovery.

Opposition media and some figures who in the past maintained a certain closeness with the Russian leader had previously ventured suspicions that Putin could suffer from thyroid cancer, an abdominal tumor, psychosis, back problems or even Parkinson’s. The Kremlin never confirmed such assumptions and, on the contrary, always tried to portray the president as a man full of strength and with a enviable health at 69 years of age.

The truth is that the diseases that have been attributed to Putin are very difficult to detect at first sight even in people diagnosed. Even less with the mere examination of the images of the Russian ruler. Some of the “evidence” provided by Western medical “experts” is limited to the viewing of some videos, such as the one showing the Russian president sitting with his country’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and in which Putin allegedly appeared tense holding one of the edges of the table, as if trying to control some uncontrollable right hand tremors due to Parkinson’s disease. In another official meeting, this time with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, video footage shows a possible tremor in Putin’s right hand and a wobble in his legs. However, such images could also be of a joking gesture by the Russian leader to his Belarusian counterpart.

‘The Project’ had pointed out, citing medical sources, that the Russian president had undergone about 35 hospital check-ups for alleged cancer in recent years

The video released by General SV also recalled that another digital medium critical of Putin, called The Projecthad pointed out, citing medical sources, that the Russian president would have passed about 35 hospital check-ups for an alleged cancer in recent years.

General SVR began reporting on Putin’s cancer, supposedly colon or other intestinal, in November 2020. Last April, the channel announced that the Russian president would undergo surgery at the end of that month on the recommendation of his doctors. , but it was not like that.

Some of the thoughtful observations made by the Western press about Putin’s health, in which they quote, for example, senior defense officials in the United States or Great Britain, border on hilarity, however. Thus, a source from the US Pentagon told the newspaper Daily Star that, while in the past Putin had been seen smiling, “in 2022 there are few photographs in which he is seen to be happy.”

There are various interpretations being made about the veracity and timeliness of these rumors about Putin’s health and all of them are very interested. They could be a maneuver by the Russian secret services to check the loyalty of Putin’s subordinates. This possibility would imply, however, a fear in the Kremlin of the existence of dangerous dissensions in the circle of Russian power. Discontent over the invasion of Ukraine, in a system of loyalties built on the foundations of many of its members belonging to the former KGB, points to a real risk to Putin’s absolute power. This has been underlined by the analyzes of some Western intelligence media, which have insisted on the danger that an eventual coup to remove Putin from power could lead to a armed civil conflict in Russiawith much more devastating consequences than the current war in Ukraine.

The spread of unconfirmed information about an illness of the Russian leader could also point to an attempt by certain Russian opposition sectors to undermine the monolithism around Putin at crucial moments of the conflict in the neighboring country. The social networks chosen to propagate such assumptions thus appear to be suspected of distorting reality and, therefore, are also at the mercy of suspicion about their veracity and about the possible hands that guide them. They might not be Russian, but it would not be ruled out that their origin was in the Kremlin itself, an expert in using disinformation as a weapon of war and destabilization.

One of the theories pointed out by the General SVR channel is that the political figure who would replace Putin in case of being subjected to emergency medical treatment would be his right hand in matters of state security, that is, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the almighty Security Council of the Russian Federation. Patrushev, seventy years old, is one of the strong men (silovic) of Putin and possibly whom he trusts the most. Between 1999 and 2008 he was director of the Federal Security Service or FSB, one of the secret services in which the former KGB was fragmented and which deals with counterintelligence. The other body is the SVR or Foreign Intelligence Service.

The Security Council of the Russian Federation is an advisory body to President Putin and is of great importance in assessing national security issues. Specifically, Patrushev was in charge of drawing up the latest plan of Russia’s national security strategy, released in May 2021.

Patrushev has been one of the champions of the invasion of Ukraine

Patrushev has been one of the champions of the invasion of Ukraine. He had accused the United States of being behind the rudder given in that country in 2014, which led to the fall of the pro-Russian Ukrainian president, Victor Yanukovych, and the firm commitment of the new kyiv governments to the European Union and NATO. . He has also pointed out on several occasions that the interference of the United States and NATO in Ukraine will sooner or later lead to the partition of this country.

Patrushev’s greater weight in decision-making could give the war in Ukraine a new charter, and Putin could communicate this on May 9, when Victory Day over Nazi Germany is celebrated in 1945. British intelligence has indicated that Putin, in the absence of decisive progress in the invasion, could on that date formally declare war on Ukraine to facilitate the sending of more reserve troops and weapons, and thus bend the government of kyiv.

Such a situation could further prolong the conflict, as NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană has pointed out. This politician has revealed that the Atlantic Alliance contemplates the possibility that the war lasts much longer than originally estimated. “It could be weeks, it could be months, it could be even years,” according to Geoană.

The prolongation of the conflict could take an unexpected turn if there were some kind of succession at the top of Russian power. “Putin would have appointed Patrushev because he considers him practically his only friend and his loyal ally in the government,” as noted by the General SVR channel. In this way, Putin himself would have arranged that, in the event that his health deteriorated and he was unable to carry out his government tasks, “the real control of the country would temporarily pass into the hands of Patrushev”, with all the consequences.


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