It is not a secret that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has so-called "clones" - individuals who resemble the paranoid dictator in appearance and stature, and who participate in public events or visits in risky places on his behalf.
Russian journalists have counted at least 6 "Putins," who differ both from the original and among themselves, both physically and behaviorally.
Yet, the identities of these impostors have remained an enigma for the public even now. Nevertheless, sometimes fragments of truth emerge where we least expect them.
Left: alleged Putin at a meeting with Xi Jinping; at right - the suspected "original" at the annual nation addess in 2023.
One of the "clones" admitted during a visit to the Petropavlovsk Fortress in January 2019 that he had served in the artillery forces during his military service and was discharged from the army in the rank of lieutenant.
This involuntary testimony slipped out during a conversation with Vladimir Bendet, a renowned Russian real estate developer, who accompanied the Russian leader.
Bendet remarked that "I never fired a cannon throughout my entire service, although I got promoted to the rank of lieutenant."
The alleged Putin replied,
This allegation does not fit the official CV of the Russian leader, who never served in the military and joined the KGB secret police in 1975 upon graduation from the Leningrad State University where he studied law. He resigned from the KGB in 1991, in the rank of colonel.
A video record of the January 2019 visit to Petropavlovsk was published on the Kremlin’s website the same day and stayed there for at least one week until the presidential administration realized that the “clone” made a confusing statement. The video was removed and the press release was redacted subsequently.
Vladimir Putin upon assuming the Russian presidency in 1999 and now.
A copy of that video is still available in social media, a user cared to post it on X (former Twitter).
The man who posits himself as Vladimir Putin in that video is jokingly called by Russian journalists “Kuchma” – due to his face traits that strikingly remind of a former Ukrainian president, Leonid Kuchma. He is quite talkative and likes to crack jokes.
Allegations about the existence of men who are used instead of the elected Russian president emerged first at the onset of Putin’s first term in office.
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