This Article is From May 17, 2022

Is Vladimir Putin seriously ill? - 'Hot Mic' With Nidhi Razdan

Hot Mic with Nidhi Razdan: Two and half months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many conspiracy theories are swirling about the health of the 69-year-old Russian president.


This is Hot Mic and I'm Nidhi Razdan.

Is Vladimir Putin dying? Two and a half months into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, many conspiracy theories are swirling around about the health of the 69-year-old Russian president. A report in New Lines magazine, which is an American publication, has been widely quoted around the world. They claim to have obtained an audio recording of an oligarch close to the Kremlin who describes Putin as "very ill with blood cancer." Although the type of blood cancer is unspecified.

Apparently, the oligarch had no idea that he was being recorded on tape in the 11-minute conversation that took place with a Western venture capitalist. The venture capitalist was the one who taped the conversation in mid-March without the oligarch's consent, and the website claims to have authenticated the oligarch's voice. The Russian says in the recording that Putin had surgery on his back, linked to his blood cancer, shortly before ordering the invasion of Ukraine back in February. He also complains that the president has gone "crazy."

At one point, he's heard saying that "he absolutely ruined Russia's economy, Ukraine's economy and many other economies, ruined them absolutely. The problem is with his head... one crazy guy can turn the world upside down."

Ashley Grossman, a professor of endocrinology at Oxford University, told New Lines magazine that steroids are typically prescribed for various kinds of lymphoma or myeloma, which is cancer of the plasma cells and these "can cause widespread bone disease and definitely affect the spinal column and the back."

The speculation around Putin's health has only increased in recent months, especially after he was seen on several occasions walking with an apparent limp. Last month on the 22nd of April, to be exact, during a meeting with his Defence Minister, Putin was seen gripping the side of a table in what some experts thought may have been a vertigo attack.

Lately, his face has been very puffy, as well as seen in his public appearances which is what doctors say could be due to the use of steroids. These are commonly prescribed for cancer treatment. During the Victory Day parade last week, Putin was wrapped up in a heavy wool blanket, again, prompting further speculation since the weather did not warrant such a heavy blanket.

On the 18th of March, at a rally in Moscow, Putin was seen walking off the stage, putting most of his weight on his left foot. There's an independent Russian publication, meanwhile, which is very well-respected. They had published a piece about how Putin travels within Russia in the company of specialist doctors. Among them are two leading head and neck surgeons, an orthopedic traumatologist and a neurosurgeon who has produced scholarship on thyroid surgery and on thyroid cancer in older and senile patients.

The outlet also reported on how Putin has taken to soaking in baths filled with the blood of deer antlers, which is thought to improve cardiovascular strength and the complexion of your skin.

Coming back to New Lines magazine, they've said in their story that officers in the Federal Security Service, which is Russia's main security agency, had been told not to speculate about Putin's health. There was actually a memo sent to their regional chiefs telling them to ignore any speculation that the president only had a few months left to live.

Now, as expected, that memo had the opposite effect, with most officers suddenly believing that Putin did indeed suffer from a serious medical condition. The magazine quotes Boris Karpichkov, a KGB defector to Britain, who thinks that Putin suffers from Parkinson's disease, along with what he called "numerous" other illnesses, including dementia.

There's also a Telegram channel called 'General SVR.' It's purportedly helmed by a former officer from Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service and that channel has stated that Putin is set to undergo surgery for an unspecified form of cancer in the near future, and that while he's on the operating table, his temporary replacement will be Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia's National Security Council, also ex-KGB and also a hawk.

Putin's poor health is said to be the reason for why he's not been seen in the spotlight so frequently since 2012. His long absences led to speculation that pre-recorded footage of his meetings with visitors was being put out by the Kremlin, including the one with his national security chiefs, just days ahead of the Ukraine invasion in February.

During Covid, his self-isolation became the stuff of legend as stories about his germophobia gained steam. Foreign visitors sit at the opposite end of long banquet tables and have to undergo RT-PCR, and even fecal samples have to be given, according to some reports.

New Lines goes on to say that a common steroid used for blood cancer treatment called Prednisone has two major side effects. One is lowered immunity that would account for Putin's germophobia and the other "deeply irrational or paranoid behavior."

Now, whether any of this is true or whether this is disinformation being spread by Putin's detractors, no one can really tell. But it's clear that Putin has not exactly been his sprightly self in public, and there may be more to it than meets the eye.