The ongoing rumors over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s supposed declining health have once again kicked into gear after he was photographed while attending Orthodox Easter services in Moscow on April 16 with a strange mark on his neck.
One photograph published by the Russian state news service TASS showed a somber-looking Putin holding a candle. Just above his shirt color, a slight indentation is visible on his neck.
In a Telegram post, Ukrainian blogger Denis Kazansky suggested that the mark appeared to be Z-shaped, a symbol associated with pro-Russian war propaganda.
In a video posted to YouTube last Monday, Ukrainian Parliament member Oleksiy Goncharenko described the indentation as a “scar,” and noted that the Russian president looked unwell during the Easter service, moving “with difficulty.” He said the photographs showed a “visible” “scar” on Putin’s neck.
But the rumors that Putin might be gravely ill have been circulating on and off ever since he underwent emergency surgery in February 2020, with some suggesting that the Russian president is suffering from a debilitating disease like Parksinson’s or cancer.
Just before Russia invaded Ukraine, the rumors about Putin’s impending death found new life after footage from a February 18, 2022 meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko showed Putin’s hands shaking uncontrollably.
In April 2022, it was reported that General SVR, an anonymous former Russian intelligence officer, told a Russian media outlet that Putin would have surgery for cancer.
In January of this year, General SVR claimed in a Telegram post that the Russian president is being treated with medication that is causing “weakness, dizziness, a lack of appetite.” He also claimed Putin is experiencing an adverse effect on his “psycho-emotional state” from the medication.
Virtually every public appearance Putin makes is met with new conspiracy theories about his supposed declining health, with each twitch or change in gait setting off the rumor mill.
But so far, none of the rumors about Putin’s health have been independently verified. Unsurprisingly, the Kremlin denies that the Russian president is sick.