Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has distributed a circular to its regional offices in an attempt to disprove rumors of Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s alleged fatal illness. However, the circular allegedly had the opposite effect, and many FSB regional directors at its base came to believe that Putin was indeed suffering from a serious illness.
TASR received the report on Friday from Sky News, which recalled that unverified speculation about Putin’s health had been emerging for several years, but intensified after ordering a military invasion of Ukraine.
The US Global Affairs magazine, New Lines, wrote that the FSB’s central management had recently sent a “top-secret circular” to the directors of all its branches across Russia. According to Christ Grozev of the Bellingcat investigative server, they urged them not to “believe the rumors of the president’s terminal illness.”
“The directors were further instructed to refute rumors of this kind that could spread in the FSB’s regional offices,” said Grozev, head of Bellingcat’s investigative department.
He quoted an unnamed source from one of the FSB’s regional headquarters, which read the circular – but said the unprecedented call had the exact opposite effect. On the contrary, most FSB officials believed that Putin was indeed suffering from a serious illness when the agency’s management needed to deny it.
New Lines magazine also received a sound recording in which an unnamed oligarch near the Kremlin says that the Russian president is “very ill” and suffers from “blood cancer”. However, he did not say what specific blood cancer it should be.
In its article, the magazine also notes the visible manifestations of Vladimir Putin’s alleged illness, including signs of blame during Monday’s ceremonial military parade in Moscow. Several media outlets also noticed that he coughed during the show and had his feet – despite the not-so-cold weather – covered with a thick blanket.
Putin’s face has changed New Lines also points out that Putin’s face has changed recently and now looks like swollen, which could be a consequence of the treatment of some disease. Several world media outlets have previously put Putin’s appearance on the outside of a possible anti-wrinkle botox application.
“Putin has always looked very healthy with a slightly worn appearance. But over the last few years, he seems to have rounded up his face and neck, ”said Ashley Grossman, a professor of endocrinology at Oxford University.
According to him, such changes could indicate the use of steroids, ie substances that are also used in cancer treatment.
However, Sky News points out that such claims about Putin’s health cannot be verified. However, according to New Lines, spreading similar rumors could benefit those in Russia that might want to wean Putin from political power.
Several Western media have recently reported unconfirmed reports that Putin could undergo surgery for cancer and could temporarily hand over power to another high-ranking official. It could be Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the influential Security Council of the Russian Federation and a former director of the FSB, reports the Daily Mail.