The former head of Ukraine's Military and Foreign Intelligence, Valeriy Kondratiuk, has played down rumors that Russian President Vladimir Putin has died, asserting that no body double would be willing to adopt the war in Ukraine for the long-haul.

However – echoing claims made previously by other Ukrainian officers – Kondratiuk told Kyiv Post in an interview that it remains perfectly plausible that Putin uses body doubles to ensure his security.

"The real Putin is where he meets with the defense minister at a large table, where the distance between him and [Sergei] Shoigu is far enough,” he said.

“When he stands near the people at events, awards – this role is played by doubles to reduce the risks of any assassination attempts.”

Rumors about Putin’s possible ill-health and even his death have persisted for months and were given a boost earlier this year when President Zelensky himself questioned if the Russian leader was still alive.

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If – and it’s a big if – Putin was in fact dead, then that would have to mean the man currently in charge of Russia and calling the shots is just a lookalike.

For Kondratiuk, this is proof in itself that Putin is still alive. “I don't think any double would be as crazy and support the war,” he said.

“I don't even see anyone in Putin's environment who would be interested in continuing his policy,” he added.

Though never definitively proven in public, the body double claim has been floated throughout Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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In October of last year, Ukrainian General Kyrylo Budanov said Putin employed lookalikes who had undergone plastic surgery.

“We know specifically about three people who keep appearing, but how many there are, we don’t know,” he said. “They all had plastic surgery to look alike.

“The one thing that gives them away is their height. It’s visible in videos and pictures. Also gesturing, body language and earlobes, since they are unique for every person.”

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The theory received another boost just last month when Putin was photographed wearing high heels while meeting a group of students in Moscow.

It’s reported that Joseph Stalin employed a body double called Felix Dadaev, a dancer and juggler who, due to his resemblance of the Soviet dictator, was ordered to work for the Kremlin during World War II.

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