Rumours have been circling for years that Vladimir Putin is suffering from health problems, and they have intensified since he launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Critics and Kremlin sources have indicated he may be suffering from cancer of Parkinson’s, supported by footage showing the leader shaking uncontrollably and gripping a table for support.
He has also disappeared from the public eye for weeks at a time, with suggestions he is undergoing surgery.
Valery Solovey, professor at Moscow State Institute of Foreign Affairs first hinted at Putin’s health problems, said in 2020 that Putin had undergone surgery for cancer.
Another unnamed source suggested the operation was on Putin’s abdomen.
He said: ‘One is of a psycho-neurological nature, the other is a cancer problem.
‘If anyone is interested in the exact diagnosis, I’m not a doctor, and I have no ethical right to reveal these problems.
‘The second diagnosis is a lot, lot more dangerous than the first named diagnosis as Parkinson’s does not threaten physical state, but just limits public appearances.
‘Based on this information people will be able to make a conclusion about his life horizon, which wouldn’t even require specialist medical education.’
The Kremlin has consistently denied that there is anything wrong with Putin’s health.
Others have previously noted his ‘gunslinger’s gait’ – a clearly reduced right arm swing compared to his left, giving him a lilting swagger.
An asymmetrically reduced arm swing is a classic feature of Parkinson’s and can manifest in ‘clinically intact subjects with a predisposition to later develop’ the disease, according to the British Medical Journal.
In February, Putin was seen with a shaking hand as he firmly gripped the side of his chair for support.
The clip, which was taken on February 18, just before the onset of his invasion of Ukraine, shows him welcoming fellow strongman Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin.
He pulls his trembling hand into his body in an attempt to quell the shakes, but then he almost stumbles as he unsteadily walks towards Lukashenko.
Later, Putin sits on a chair but is unable to remain still, constantly fidgeting and tapping his feet while he grips onto the arm for support.
In a meeting with defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin’s poor posture and his apparently bloated face and neck fuelled the speculation.
Video showed Putin speaking to Shoigu whilst gripping the edge of the table with his right hand – so hard that it appears white – and tapping his foot consistently.
He has since been seen limping and shaking his hands and legs, further bolstering the rumours.