Vladimir Putin has been accused of sending a body double to the occupied city of Mariupol in Ukraine, with one official analysing different pictures and asking: “What’s up with your chin?” Kyiv official Anton Gerashchenko analysed footage from the Russian President’s visit at the weekend and believes something isn’t quite right. The Interior Minister adviser took to Twitter to post three different pictures of Putin to compare whether the chins in each belonged to the same man.
He wrote: “What’s up with your chin, Putin?
Mr Gerashchenko posted: “Looks like lately his make-up artists (i.e. for the recent trips of the bunker man to the occupied Crimea and Mariupol) had to work with quite a low-quality copy, not even a double but its copy.
“I wonder which one of them was real?”
The first of the three pictures shows 70-year-old Putin during an address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow.
The second is dated March 18 in Russian-occupied Sevastopol in Crimea and the final one in Mariupol on Saturday.
The first picture shows Putin with as tight and precise chin but the second in Sevastopol suggested a sagging chin, while the one taken in Mariupol appears to show a firmer chin but less so than in the Moscow picture a month ago.
During recent months, there have been widespread reports that Putin uses body doubles on some trips outside Moscow, or when there may be instances where he could be surrounded by people.
Earlier today, Telegram channel General SVR claimed the Russian President had not even visited wither Sevastopol or Mariupol.
“The information from the Kremlin’s resources that Vladimir Putin visited Crimea and Mariupol is NOT true,” claimed the channel which says it has insider sources.
In Sevastopol, the anti-Putin channel claimed the double was “forbidden to conduct meaningful conversations and hold long meetings, fearing embarrassment or another [mistake] of the understudy”.
It alleged: “The same applies to the visit to Mariupol. The double was filmed [but]did not talk much and did not stay anywhere for a long time.”
During his surprise visit to Mariupol on Saturday, Putin was seen not wearing a seatbelt on a drive with very little security visible.
The channel said: “The ‘spontaneous’ rides of ‘Putin’ around Mariupol at the wheel, without blocking the streets, without a motorcade of guards, and going out ‘to the people’ in the front-line occupied city is not only unrealistic, it’s not even funny.
“The President was at that time many hundreds of kilometres away, warm and completely safe.”
The channel also claimed: “Actively using a double, recently, Putin is increasingly becoming a ‘fake’ president.
“The whole country is already laughing over the inconsistency of the understudy with the original” in appearance, behaviour and habits.
Earlier today, Putin met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, with the summit between the two leaders criticised as a possible “stalling tactic” allowing the Kremlin’s forces to recalibrate on the ground in Ukraine.
Footage showed the pair sitting several feet apart from each other, exchanging greetings but both grimacing, with Putin in particular appearing uneasy as he constantly moves his feet.
Chinese leader Xi referred to Putin as his “dear friend” and predicted the visit would “be fruitful and give new momentum to the healthy and stable development of Chinese-Russian relations”.
Previously, China’s foreign ministry had described the visit from the President as a “journey of co-operation, friendship and peace”.
China and Russia has also referred to Xi’s trip as part of efforts to further deepen their “no-limits friendship.”
The Kremlin earlier welcomed China’s peace plan for Ukraine and said it would be discussed talks between Putin and Xi.