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Fact-checking Putin’s death news, Why the claims seem strong?

Recently, there have been numerous claims circulating about the health and possible death of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

By Ground report
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Fact checking Putin’s death news, Why the claims seem strong?

Recently, there have been numerous claims circulating about the health and possible death of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Telegram channel General SVR, which has long claimed that the Russian dictator is suffering from cancer and is terminally ill, published a report of his death. The channel also claimed that a "coup" is underway in Russia, as Putin’s 71-year-old entourage attempts to pass off his body double as the real president.

"Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state media RIA Novosti that they consider the report as an "absurd information canard". Earlier this week, he strongly denied that Putin suffered a heart attack last weekend and also refuted reports that the Russian president used a doppelgänger."

Various media organizations have made these claims based on several factors. Here's an analysis of the situation:

Claim of Putin’s Death

The claims about Putin’s health condition and possible death are primarily based on the following:

  1. Deteriorating Health: There have been rumors for some time that Putin is battling serious health conditions, including cancer and Parkinson’s disease.  Observations of Putin appearing unsteady and bloated in public appearances have fueled these rumors.
  2. Reports from Telegram Channels: A Russian Telegram channel, General SVR, which claims to have insider information from Kremlin officials, has reported that Putin suffered a cardiac arrest at his home. The channel has since doubled down on these claims.
  3. Use of Body Doubles: There have also been claims that Putin has been using a body double for public appearances to hide his deteriorating health. These rumors have been made numerous times before.

Who is making the Claims?

Various media organizations, including The Sun, The Mirror, and Business Today, have reported the claims about Putin's health and possible death. Information from the General SVR Telegram channel primarily forms the basis of these reports.

Here is a closer look at the facts.

Why is Russia denying the claims?

Recently, rumors have been swirling about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s health, with claims suggesting that he suffered a severe heart attack. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed these rumors as “just another hoax,” assuring that “everything is fine” with Putin.

Despite these denials, the rumors gained traction after they were reported by various global news outlets and widely shared on social media. The source of these claims was a Telegram account, General SVR, which purports to have insider information from the Kremlin. However, misinformation researchers caution that this source is not reliable.

Scott Radnitz, a professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Washington, noted that while the channel’s mocking tone towards the Kremlin may appeal to English-speaking audiences, it has previously made likely false claims about Putin’s health. The channel has also suggested that Putin uses a body double for public appearances.

The post alleging Putin’s heart attack has been viewed over 400,000 times and forwarded around 22,000 times. Despite its popularity, the author of the channel remains anonymous, and its credibility is questionable.

Foreign media outlets have not picked up the channel's dubious claims for the first time. Last December, they reported the channel's claim that Putin had fallen down the stairs, which multiple tabloids also reported.

Reasons for denials could be multiple

  1. Political Stability: Announcing the ill-health or death of a country’s leader can lead to political instability. It could lead to power struggles within the government and uncertainty among the citizens.
  2. National Security: In times of conflict or tension, such as the current situation with Ukraine, maintaining a strong leadership image is crucial for national security.
  3. Control of Information: The Russian government is known for its tight control over information. It may be trying to manage the narrative around Putin’s health.

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