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Rare sightings of Vladimir Putin in public with apparent changes in appearance, such as what appears to be a vanishing chin and shifting jaw, have led Russian watchers to question whether the Russian despot is using a body double. In a recent viral video, doubts have been raised about whether the person who appeared in footage from Putin’s recent visit to Mariupol was really him.
The video, published in March, claims that Putin’s jaw looks different from his previous appearances, and suggests that the individual who appeared in the footage may have been a body double.
Meanwhile, the unknown producers of the video also question whether the individual in the footage has false teeth.
The narrator mocks: “They forgot to put in his jaw.”
Adding to the controversy, on Monday, March 20, Kyiv official Anton Gerashchenko posted three images of Putin’s chin on social media and questioned whether they all belonged to the same person.
The Interior Minister advisor pointed out that Putin’s chin appeared tight and precise in one image, while in another image taken in Sevastopol in 2014, his chin appeared to be sagging.
In the third image, which was taken during Putin’s visit to Mariupol, his chin appeared firmer but less defined than in the Moscow picture.
Mr Gerashchenko wrote: “What’s up with your chin, Putin?
“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.
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“I wonder which one of them was real?”
Putin arrived in Mariupol last Sunday by helicopter and then drove himself around the city’s “memorial sites,” concert hall and coastline, Russian news reports said.
The state Rossiya 24 channel on Sunday showed Putin chatting with locals outside what looked like a newly built residential complex, and being shown around one of the apartments.
Following his trip to Mariupol, Putin met with Russian military leaders and troops at a command post in Rostov-on-Don, a southern Russian city some 180 kilometres farther east, and conferred with General Valery Gerasimov, who is in charge of the Russian military operations in Ukraine.
Putin arrived in Mariupol
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the trip had been unannounced, and that Putin intended to “inspect the work of the (command) post in its ordinary mode of operation.”
Speaking to the state RIA-Novosti agency, Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin made clear that Russia was in Mariupol to stay. He said the government hoped to finish the reconstruction of its blasted downtown by the end of the year.
Khusnullin told RIA: “People have started to return. When they saw that reconstruction is under way, people started actively returning.”
When Moscow fully captured the city in May, an estimated 100,000 people remained, out of a prewar population of 450,000. Many were trapped without food, water, heat or electricity. Relentless bombardment left rows of shattered or hollowed-out buildings.
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