Is Putin Dead? That’s the Latest Conspiracy Theory Again – Conspiracy theories thrive when information is tightly controlled – which is why there has been renewed speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be gravely ill, or perhaps even dead.
This is hardly the first time that the “rumors of death” of Putin have circulated, yet, it remains unclear how exaggerated they may be.
In this case, it began last week when a Russian propagandist posted to the Telegram social messaging app in reference to Putin stating, “God, don’t you leave us. Pray to God you are alive and healthy.” That was quickly picked up by Anton Gerashchenko, the advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, who took to X – the social media platform formerly known as Twitter – who simply asked, “What is going on.”
The “Real” Putin Hasn’t Been Seen
It is absolutely true that Putin has largely disappeared from public view since the start of the ill-fated “special military operation” in Ukraine, which by all accounts hasn’t gone as planned.
In March, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Putin for his alleged role in war crimes in Ukraine, which has likely only furthered his paranoia about leaving the country.
Even inside Russia, Putin largely only travels by special train – reportedly out of fear that his aircraft could be shot down.
Is Putin Already Dead?
Ukrainian General Kyrylo Budanov, who has served as chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine since August 2020, has been among those speculating whether Putin is seriously ill or even worse.
He claimed the last known time that Putin was publicly seen was in late June 2022 – when there was late-night activity at the Kremlin. However, that was actually prior to the Russian leader’s visit to Tehran, which did garner significant media coverage, as did the visit to Belarus.
It is true that Putin has been largely absent since the Wagner Group’s failed mutiny this past June, and Putin was reported to be in hiding for days. As previously reported, Putin was essentially paralyzed, and unable to issue orders.
A History of Dead Silence
If Putin were to have died, it is likely that the announcement would be carefully orchestrated.
Unlike with the passing of Western officials, which is made almost immediately, the Kremlin has attempted to control the narrative – going so far as to conceal the facts for days.
Such was the case when Soviet leader Yuri Andropov died at age 70 of kidney failure, and it wasn’t even until after his death that state media reported he had been receiving kidney dialysis therapy.
Likely, any treatment Putin has been – or is – receiving won’t be fully acknowledged until after he is dead.
It was also 70 years ago this past March that the Kremlin announced to the world that Joseph Stalin had passed six hours earlier – and that information wasn’t shared with the Soviet people for another two hours.
It was only when news began to trickle into the country that Moscow finally agreed to declare that Stalin had died officially.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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