Senior British spies now believe that Russian president Vladimir Putin might already be dead. MI6 bosses claim Putin has been seriously ill and that if he had died, the Kremlin would hush it up to keep power for as long as possible.
A source told the Daily Star that Putin’s recent media appearances had very probably been pre-recorded, while body doubles could have been used at public events such as the Moscow Victory Day Parade earlier this month.
An intelligence source said: “Putin is very ill and when he dies his death will be kept secret for weeks, if not months. There is also the possibility that he is already dead. It’s impossible to know. It is believed that Putin has employed body doubles in the past when he has been unwell and the Kremlin could be doing so now.
“Putin is the head of a small group of senior officials who are completely loyal to him. The real fear (for his cronies) is that once his death is announced there could be a Kremlin coup and Russian generals will want to withdraw from Ukraine.
“Putin’s death will leave them powerless and vulnerable so they have a vested interest in saying that Putin is alive – when the reverse could be true.”
The 69-year-old’s health has clearly deteriorated in recent months, and it is now widely believed he is taking steroids or receiving cancer treatment which has left him looking puffy-faced. He has appeared less mobile, with some observers suggesting he could have blood cancer.
Two weeks ago, a Russian oligarch with close links to the Kremlin said Putin is “very ill with blood cancer” and had surgery before invading Ukraine. Ukraine’s head of military intelligence Major General Kyrylo Budanov also claimed Putin is seriously ill with cancer.
Russian affairs expert Fiona Hill, who has met Putin in the past, said he was “not looking so great” and could be taking “high doses of steroids”.