Russia’s Proekt Media has released an investigation into the health of Russian President Vladimir Putin that undermines the dictator’s strongman image.
Proekt’s journalists claim that the Russian tyrant is suffering from hypochondria — he is always accompanied by a huge team of doctors, and in recent years Putin has even taken a shine to alternative medicine.
At the beginning of his reign, Putin “exploited the image of an active man in his prime.” Back then, according to an official who worked with him, the president of the Russian Federation rarely underwent health checks and ignored illnesses, such as a fever.
At the same time, the Kremlin — nurturing an image of Putin as an “alpha male” — decided not to tell the public anything negative about his health at all.
Proekt writes that in those years, Putin, who was fond of equestrian sports, frequently fell from horses. One of the dictator’s acquaintances said that after one of the falls, Putin “couldn’t even get on his feet” for some time, and then had to go undergo lengthy treatment.
In 2012, Putin first appeared in public with a limp, on National Unity Day, when he laid flowers at the monument to Minin and Pozharsky.
The Russian head of state did not feature in the television broadcast of the event, and the Kremlin press service did not post the video of it on its official website, limiting itself to photographs. It outright forbade news agencies from mentioning Putin’s limp in their reports. However, footage of a limping Putin went viral online thanks to the Russian Orthodox Church website.
By the end of 2012, Putin’ limp had worsened — because of this, the duration of all events involving the president was limited to one hour.
Around the same time, according to Proekt, the Kremlin first resorted to the use of pre-recorded footage of Putin’s meetings with subordinates, which allowed the president to discreetly disappear from view.
Over time, these disappearances became more common – as did Putin’s health problems. Such clips were used at least in March 2015, August 2017, February 2018 and September 2021, Proekt notes.
With age, concern for health and longevity has absorbed Putin so much that he has even shown interest in alternative medicine.
In particular, Putin began to take baths using boiled deer antler extract, which Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recommended to him. Because of Putin’s interest, such baths and similar non-traditional ways of prolonging youth have become popular among other top officials, the outlet writes.
Proekt notes that Putin’s interest in non-scientific medicine is odd, given that there are many doctors among his close relatives, including his daughter Maria.
Over the years, Putin started visiting the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow’s Kuntsevo District more frequently. According to one of Proekt’s sources, he is treated by a “personal doctor unit” there.
The same doctors accompany Putin on trips and fly to his residences.
Proekt found that otolaryngologists (head and neck surgeons) Alexei Shcheglov and Igor Esakov, as well as surgeon Yevgeny Selivanov, who until recently specialized in oncology and dealt with thyroid gland problems, visited Putin most often. An otolaryngologist, writes Proekt, “is the doctor who, among other things, can be the first to detect problems with (Putin’s) thyroid gland, including cancer.” The publication also notes that Putin has publicly demonstrated interest in thyroid cancer.
According to a Proekt source close to the leadership of a major hospital, the medical community is indeed talking about the president’s health problems. According to the source, these conversations became frequent in the fall of 2021, when Putin, after a long stay in isolation due to the coronavirus, returned to holding public events. During a meeting with the Paralympic athletes on Sept. 13, he unexpectedly announced that he had to go into isolation, as too many around him were sick with coronavirus. According to Proekt, this news came as a “surprise” even to the president’s entourage.
After that, Putin did not appear in public for the whole of September. However, it is unknown whether he underwent any medical treatment at that time.
As the newspaper notes, after that, the leader began to communicate withpeople at a great distance from them — usually at the opposite ends of extra-long tables.