Russian President Vladimir Putin was mocked by a group of Ukrainians on Monday for allegedly sending a body double to war-torn Mariupol in a high-security visit, according to reports. Anton Gerashchenko, a representative of Kyiv, tweeted three photos of Putin's chin and questioned whether they were all of the same person.
Along with the three images, Gerashechenko asked on social media: "Which one do you think is the real one?" The rare public appearances by Putin, including his first visit to the war-ravaged Mariupol, a region that has been conquered since the invasion started last year, have stoked rumors that he is employing body doubles.
Real or Fake
Putin was heckled by a group of Ukrainians heckled Putin on Monday as Kyiv made fun of the dictator for sending a "body double" to "war-ravaged Mariupol". A woman can be heard shouting "It's all lies, it's all just for show" from the window in television footage of the weekend visit as he spoke with occupants of a reconstructed apartment building.
Funny enough, the interruption prompted a manhunt from petty Putin's security team, who investigated the surrounding structures for the cause of the disruption.
After analyzing the footage, Gerashchenko, a Kyiv official, saw a problem and posted three separate photos of Putin to see if their chins belonged to the same person.
In the side-by-side photos, red rings can be seen around each man's neck and chin, giving the impression that not all three men in the pictures are Putin.
In one image, Putin, 70, is seen speaking to the Federal Parliament in Moscow one month ago.
Another was reportedly Putin's March 18 trip to the Crimean naval port of Sevastopol.
The third came from a video that was made public the day after and appeared to show the tyrant in a Mariupol that had been heavily damaged by battle.
Putin looks to have a narrower neck in a photo taken on February 21 in Moscow. However, the two pictures taken this past weekend in Mariupol and Sevastopol reveal a plumper jowl.
"Which image do you think is the real one," Gerashechenko asked alongside the three images.
He also taunted: "What's up with your chin, Putin?"
The Interior Minister advisor posted: "Looks like lately his make-up artists (i.e. for the recent trips of the bunker man to the occupied Crimea and Mariupol) had to work with quite a low-quality copy, not even a double but its copy. I wonder which one of them was real?"
Body Double Speculation Rife
Time and again there have been claims that Putin uses body doubles while traveling outside of Moscow or when there are a lot of people present. Today, the General SVR Telegram channel stated that Putin had not visited Sevastopol or Mariupol, two cities that were invaded following a brutal conflict last year.
"The information from the Kremlin's resources that Vladimir Putin visited Crimea and Mariupol is NOT true," claimed the channel which says it has insider sources.
According to the channel, a president's body double was seen in Crimea for a brief visit that served only the purpose of a video photo shoot. Putin's lookalike was "forbidden to conduct meaningful conversations and hold long meetings, fearing embarrassment or another [mistake] of the understudy."
"The same applies to the visit to Mariupol," the Russian anti-Putin channel alleged. "The double was filmed [but]did not talk much and did not stay anywhere for a long time."
Ukrainian military intelligence representative Andriy Yusov told the Kyiv Post "a man that looks like Putin visited Mariupol."
The use of body doubles lowers the chance of an assassination attempt, according to Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, who spoke to the publication earlier this year. "Russian President Vladimir Putin uses at least three lookalikes. They have had plastic surgery to look more like the Kremlin head," Budanov said.
"We know specifically about three people who keep appearing, but how many there are, we don't know," Budanov said.
"The one thing that gives them away is their height. It's visible in videos and pictures. Also gestures, body language and earlobes, since they are unique for every person."