Vladimir Putin is “very ill with blood cancer” an oligarch with close ties to the Russian leader has reportedly been recorded as saying.
The unnamed oligarch was recorded discussing Putin’s health with a Western venture capitalist in mid-March in a recording obtained by New Lines, a US magazine.
The new claims come amid mounting health concerns about the Kremlin leader who has appeared frail at public events including the Victory Day celebrations last week while videos have circulated showing president Putin “shaking uncontrollably.” Publicly the Kremlin has stated that Mr Putin is fit and well but his strict precautions during the pandemic and use of a long table to meet other political leaders have strengthened rumours.
The Russian oligarch says in the recording that Mr Putin had surgery on his back linked to his blood cancer shortly before ordering the invasion of Ukraine - which he has called a “special military operation”. He adds that the president has gone “crazy”.
He says that there is deep frustration in Moscow about the state of the economy and, appearing to speak on behalf of other oligarchs, says “we all hope” that Mr Putin dies. “He absolutely ruined Russia’s economy, Ukraine’s economy and many other economies — ruined [them] absolutely,” the oligarch says. “The problem is with his head. One crazy guy can turn the world upside down.”
The western businessman has kept the name of the oligarch anonymous for his protection, having recorded the conversation without his permission, reports New Lines magazine.
Vladimir Putin faced intense scrutiny after a video recorded meeting between him and Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu showed the Kremlin leader tightly clutching his table throughout the sit down, not letting go for the entirety of the 12-minute clip. In the footage released by the Kremlin, Mr Putin moves his feet up and down, appears restless and tense, and clears his throat a number of times while listening to the minister – who reportedly suffered a heart attack recently at the age of 66.
Sir Richard Dearlove – former MI6 head – and Professor Gwythian Prins – previously a Nato adviser – have claimed that Mr Putin has shown signs of the progressive nervous system disorder.
New Lines disclosed that officers in the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s main security agency, had been told not to speculate about Mr Putin’s health. Christo Grozev, the head Russian investigator at Bellingcat, the investigative journalism group, said that a memo was sent to regional chiefs telling them to ignore speculation that the president had months left to live.
“This instruction had the opposite effect, with most FSB officers suddenly coming to believe that Putin indeed suffers from a serious medical condition,” Mr Grozev told New Lines.