Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent visit to the military hospital in Moscow was embroiled in controversy after several social media users claimed it to be staged. It was claimed that members of Federal Security Service (FSB) were repeatedly being used to pose as patients or factory workers in the videos and pictures from the staged visit.
Speculations about Putin using a body double and staging his visits to public places have gained momentum since the reports about his deteriorating health have surfaced in wake of the ongoing Russian invasion.
Putin Hailed the Russian Troops as "Heroes"
Putin visited the wounded Russian soldiers in the Moscow's Mandryka military hospital, on Wednesday. A video released by the Kremlin shows the Russian president wearing a white gown greeting the patients in the hospital. He was accompanied by the Defense Minister, Sergei K. Shoigu.
Shaking the hands of a soldier, Putin enquired about his 9-month old son. "He will be proud of his dad," Putin told the patient. The Moscow Times reported that in a televised meeting with the government officials, Putin called the soldiers "heroes."
"These are people who are risking their health and lives for the sake of the people and children of Donbas, for the sake of Russia. They are all heroes," he said as per the outlet.
He also instructed the senior government officials to increase payments to service members deployed in Ukraine and to double the child care allowance for women in the military, the outlet claimed.
Was the Visit Staged?
Soon after the visuals from Putin's hospital visit surfaced, speculations about it being staged started doing rounds on social media. Sharing the images, Adam Rang, a self-described "counter-propaganda" activist from Estonia, tweeted, "Putin met with a wounded solider who, by a strange coincidence, was also a factory worker he previously met." Rang also shared the images from the events.
Both the photos allegedly show the same man, with receding hairline and a unique widow's peak, posing as a patient and a factory worker. Ukrainian race car driver Igor Shushko tweeted, "In case you were wondering how #Putin can possibly risk being in the presence of regular #RussianPeople. He never does."
Several social media users even claimed that the people in the visuals were members of FSB. "Putin again met with his bodyguards, staging a fictitious meeting with wounded soldiers: Putin's fear for his life intensifies, ruler Putin is obliged to serve propaganda so that the Russians do not hang him, but propaganda requires a meeting with the people so Putin makes fakes," tweeted a user.
"Putin no longer meets any Russians that aren't part of his security apparatus. There's the "strong leader" that causes Scholz and Macron is p*ss themselves," read another tweet.