The “news” that President Vladimir Putin had suffered of a heart attack, which was broken by the GeneralSVR Telegram channel on Monday Oct. 23, quickly gained traction on both social and mainstream media before being just as quickly dismissed as pure fabrication.

The same source then reported a few days later, in remarkable detail, that the dictator had finally died.

The Telegram channel in question is run by someone using the alias “Viktor Mikhailovich,” who claims to be a former Kremlin insider with continuing links to Putin’s inner circle.

He was initially supported in his assertions by Valery Solovey, a respected, well-connected Russian pro-democracy political analyst.

Solovey was one of the first “legitimate” commentators to float the idea that Putin was using “body doubles” to take up the slack because he was so ill.

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At first the Kremlin and then Western media and politicians rejected the idea completely because of a lack of any concrete evidence supporting their sensational claims, which seemed to be completely blown out of the water as the “dead” President appeared several times in public.

Yet neither Solovey or GeneralSVR have backed down. The latter continues to insist:

  • a “coup d’etat” is underway
  • the “real” Putin lies in a freezer in his Valdai Palace
  • many of the President’s public appearances were via video-links,
  • the country is actually being run by Nikolai Patrushev the Secretary of Russia’s Security Council
  • one or more of the “doubles” is filling the gap until the Patrushev’s cabal decides what to do

Perhaps we should consider whether these reports of Putin’s supposed death are simply the rantings of a couple of eccentrics, or a plot to undermine Putin ahead of 2024 elections or, as some in the West believe a Russian security services provocation to check the loyalty of the members of Moscow’s elite.

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Incidentally GeneralSVR’s posts are read by almost half a million subscribers, so it is interesting to examine them over the past couple of weeks as he takes the “post-Putin conspiracy” forward.

His musings may seem increasingly far-fetched but one has to remember how the Soviet Union and Russia behaved when previous leaders died and senior politicians made sure that all their ducks were in a row before publicly acknowledging their passing.

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Here is a taste of what has been posted in the last fortnight (two weeks for our American readers):

Oct. 30: Moscow’s responses to the anti-Jewish protests in Dagestan were controlled and coordinated by Patrushev, who briefed the “double” on what to say. The North Caucasus could explode. The members of Putin’s circle are jockeying for position in the new regime and in-fighting could become unpleasant.

Oct. 31: A “double” held a meeting with permanent members of Russia’s Security Council. This was partly by video link and partly face-to-face with selected members of the inner circle who have accepted the [new] “president.” Meanwhile Patrushev is preparing to replace certain individuals in the government and the best strategy to replace “Putin” that will be accepted by both the Russian people and the West.

Nov. 1: While the double was wheeled out to meet members of the “outer circle” Patrushev continues to prepare the ground for “Politburo 2.0.” It is being suggested that the “double” will be kept in place in the long-term and fully immersed in his role as the President. There is supposedly a joke among Kremlin insiders that Putin was the one best prepared for “Halloween as he portrays a dead man in an amazingly natural way.”

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Nov. 2: Reports of a telephone conversation between Putin and Belarus President Lukashenko are not true. The latter is “in” on the pretense and has been tasked with gauging how the rest of the CSTO, particularly Armenia and Kazakhstan will keep together. He ridicules the double’s “screwdrivers, needles and bed bugs” rant over latest sanctions announcement. The “double” is to legally take the name Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

Nov. 3: Work on establishing the new Politburo is suffering from in-fighting, along with concerns that the “double” is being used too much. The inner circle is to hold a private memorial service and dinner for the dead President on Nov. 4

Nov. 4 – Nov 6: General disparaging of the “doubles” on-line performances.

Nov. 6: The “double” has come down with COVID which has caused some concern among the cabal as if he dies Patrushev’s current plans could go awry – and the understudy may have infected Patriarch Kirill who he met and embraced on Saturday. The inner circle complained about lack of music at “Putin’s Wake.”

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Today: the planned activities of the “double” have been cancelled because he is so sick which threatens the proposed Nov. 9 trip to Kazakhstan. The Kremlin has some pre-recorded video material but don’t want to use it unless it becomes urgent to keep everyone happy.

There is, of course, no way to confirm the veracity or otherwise of any of this unless there is a definitive sighting of the real Putin or someone from the Kremlin’s inner circle breaks ranks.

Nevertheless, it makes interesting and entertaining reading, so Kyiv Post will continue to monitor the saga to see how it ends – one way or the other.

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