Vladimir Putin’s latest public appearance sparks new speculation about his health

A recent appearance of Vladimir Putin has fuelled new speculation about not only the Russian President’s physical health, but also mental health.

Social distancing at latest meeting

The head of the Kremlin hosted a multilateral meeting to discuss peace in Afghanistan with regional stakeholders on Tuesday 7 February in Moscow.

In attendance were officials from China, India, Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan was also invited but decided not to attend.

Putin has famously practised social distancing while meeting with world leaders, often sitting at the opposite end of huge tables, and this meeting was no different.

In a photograph from the forum, Putin can be seen sitting by himself on one side of a massive, round table, while all of his guests are seated on the opposite side.

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Vladimir Putin’s mental health

While there has been plenty of rumours about the Russian President’s physical health, with varying reports he’s suffering from cancer and Parkinson’s disease, there has also been a lot of debate surrounding his mental health.

Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Russia and political science professor, said the photo reveals insights into Putin’s mental state. He wrote on Twitter:

Putin still practicing social distancing. Doesn’t strike me as a guy on a suicidal mission.

In October 2022, Mark Feygin, a former deputy in the Russian State Duma, told Newsweek that Putin is becoming more isolated and afraid as, for the first time, the Russian President’s ‘future is not defined by himself’.

Feygin said:

He’s entering the eighth decade of his life, and his psychological condition is not good. He is somewhat paranoid right now, and he sees or expects that his own inner circle, his own people, may rejoice to a certain degree that these failures are happening to him.

It seems Russia is going to do something about all this speculation, according to a new report by Russian investigative outlet, iStories. It discovered that Russia’s federal agency for monitoring and censoring communications, Roskomnadzor, intends to use artificial intelligence to attempt to track online posts, comments, and memes that criticise Putin, including rumours about his health.

Sources used:

Newsweek: ‘Putin’s Meeting Is Sign He’s Not on ‘Suicidal Mission’: Former Ambassador’

Kyiv Independent: ‘Media: Russia’s state censor to track Putin memes with help of AI’

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