Putin, health and the ‘mysterious’ woman: analysis of photos and videos

The latest appearances of the Russian president in the spotlight. And Danish services add elements

Vladimir Putin’s coughs, the ever-present extra next to the Russian president, the Danish intelligence report on the conditions of number 1 of the Kremlin. In the transition between 2022 and 2023, the spotlight is always on the leader of Moscow, who in his message at the end of last year – among other things – reiterated the accusation already made against the West, guilty of aiming for the destruction of Russia.

On Twitter, the video published by Francis Scarr, a BBC journalist who monitors the Russian media, causes discussion. Scarr offers an excerpt from Putin’s video message: the president, in front of a group of members of the navy, coughs clearly as he speaks. The video “has not been edited. I watched all 9 minutes of the original footage”, Putin “coughs”, says the journalist. The question that some users ask is automatic: if the best version of the video made public shows a frail Putin, who knows what the discarded clips show.

Furthermore, the presence of a blonde woman among the representatives of the Russian armed forces stands out in the video. Her face attracts the attention of observers and the analysis of photos and videos in which Putin participated reveal at least partially the mystery. The woman has already held other roles: she was a soldier but also a sailor and even a devoted faithful.

Julian Roepcke, a Bild journalist, pulls out of his hat a clip of Zvezda TV, the broadcaster headed by the Russian Defense Ministry. In the video, the woman – always her – is rewarded by Putin at the year-end event and explains that soldiers at the front in Ukraine, even if wounded, do not want to be taken away and want to continue fighting with their fellow soldiers. The message, judging by the president’s expression, does not seem too convincing.

The discussion on Twitter ignites while in Denmark, from the pages of the Berlinske site, the words of ‘Joakim’ bounce, as the head of the intelligence team that monitors Russia and in particular observes Putin is identified, also collecting information on the conditions of health of the president.

It is “probable” that Putin will remain in power in the next 5 years. “We don’t see anyone able to remove it. If we did see it, the Russian services would see it too and the matter would be resolved quickly”, says Joakim, highlighting that “the main uncertainty concerns his health”, proposing the hypothesis according to which “someone he may have it removed due to his deteriorating health.”

Danish intelligence does not believe that Putin is terminally ill. The Russian president, on the other hand, would be conditioned by “chronic pain that has been afflicting him for years now. That’s why he tends to grasp things rigidly. In this way it is easier to control the pain”, says Joakim, also referring to a famous meeting between Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu: in that circumstance, the president remained clinging with a ‘suspicious’ movement to the table where he was sitting with the interlocutor.

The Danish services do not exclude that Putin has suffered from cancer in the past and it is plausible that in February, when he ordered the invasion of Ukraine, the number 1 of the Kremlin was undergoing hormone therapy: it would let him think the shape of the face of Putin at that time. Some have hypothesized a diagnosis of thyroid cancer. “An excellent bet”, defines Joakim. The pathology, the reports from Copenhagen highlight, does not put the Russian leader’s life at risk but could condition the line of Moscow’s elite. “We have the well-founded impression that a section of the elite believes this is going in the wrong direction.”