Russia is accused of FAKING Putin’s Easter service visit by ‘using old pictures from 2021’ amid mounting questions over his health
- There are suspicions the Kremlin faked Putin’s cathedral visit this past weekend
- The Russian leader was pictured marking Orthodox Easter at a Moscow service
- But the images and footage bore a stark resemblance to those taken last year
- Ukrainian and Russian opposition media said the images may have been faked
- It comes amid speculation that Putin is suffering considerable health problems
Questions have emerged on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin really attended an Orthodox Easter service in Moscow this past weekend after pictures issued by the Kremlin bore a startling resemblance to images from last year.
The images, purportedly taken one year apart, appear to show Putin dressed in the same suit and look extremely similar – the only clearly discernible difference being the colour of his tie.
Putin is believed to have attended the midnight Easter service to mark Orthodox Easter on Sunday morning – April 24 – alongside Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin at Moscow’s huge gold-encrusted Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
But images and video footage of the event have been seized upon by opposition media in Russia and Ukraine, suggesting the new clips were faked from last year’s service on May 2, 2021.
It comes after footage last week appeared to show Putin bloated and slouching at a meeting with the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, who also seemed fragile and appeared to slur his words as he read a short statement to the President.
The footage sparked rumours Putin is suffering considerable health problems, while Shoigu, who was largely sidelined after being a mainstay in the early days of the war in Ukraine, was thought to have endured a heart attack.
There are only subtle differences in lighting and the colour of Putin’s tie between both sets of images from the Easter service, prompting suggestions that the images have been manipulated (Putin at Easter service in 2021 pictured left. 2022 image is pictured right)
Putin (L) is believed to have attended the midnight Easter service to mark Orthodox Easter on Sunday morning – April 24 – alongside Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin (R) at Moscow’s huge gold-encrusted Christ the Saviour Cathedral
He appeared to chew the insides of his mouth, shifting uncomfortably, adding to a swirl of commentary that the pressure of Russian setbacks over the war in Ukraine
There are only subtle differences in lighting and the colour of Putin’s tie between both sets of images from the Easter service, prompting suggestions that the images have been manipulated.
‘Putin is standing in the same suit and with the same candle as on May 2, 2021,’ reported Russian outlet The Village.
‘This is evidenced by a photo report from the temple on the Kremlin website.’
Opposition investigative media Agentstvo also claimed that this year’s footage of Putin attending the ceremony – an appearance he makes annually – seemed to have been distorted.
‘In the broadcast of the Easter service from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Putin seemed to disappear for a moment,’ said the outlet.
‘This happened during the switching of shots, from a close-up with the president to a more general one…
‘The place where Putin should be seems to be empty.’
The claims were set upon by Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs adviser Anton Herashchenko, who said: ‘Putin’s directors were again caught using video editing and [manipulation].
‘This time at the broadcast of the Easter service.’
Telegram channel Mozhem Obyasnit (We Can Explain) posted: ‘Putin-2022 at the service in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is almost indistinguishable from Putin-2021.
‘Social media users, having studied the photos, doubted that the President attended a public event.’
The channel urged followers to ‘spot the difference’ between Putin this year and last.
Some comments believe his face has changed since last year despite similar expressions.
Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill, who has supported his invasion of Ukraine, led the service. Eastern Orthodox churches observe the ancient Julian calendar, and this year celebrate the Orthodox Easter on April 24
‘Putin has the same hairstyle, almost the same facial expression, the same candle,’ said Mozhem Obyasnit.
‘Both are on the same background in the same aisle of the cathedral.
‘True, in 2021 Putin was sometimes shown against the backdrop of parishioners and priests, but this year, for some reason, they did not do this.
‘Social media users conclude that reports of Putin’s participation in this public event at the height of the war are illustrated with pictures from a peaceful 2021.’
During the service, when Patriarch Kirill – head of the Russian Orthodox Church – declared ‘Christ has risen’, Putin did not join in with the other members of the congregation to reply ‘truly he is risen,’ according to Reuters.
In the video, the typically stoic and steadfast Putin was shown grimacing, fidgeting and biting his lip. This was interpreted by some as a sign of his state of mind during the war, while others have posited he may be suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
‘I am persuaded by a lot of medical advice that he is an ill man and the most persuasive diagnosis is that he has early Parkinsonia,’ said former government defence and Nato adviser Professor Gwythian Prins, appearing on Good Morning Britain over the weekend.
‘I happen to live with a clinical neurological psychologist – my wife – who has spent 30 years dealing with people who have had degenerative brain diseases.’
He said people living with Parkinson’s often show ‘all or nothing thinking’ where they become disinhibited, stopping them from taking in information rationally.
Claims Putin’s Easter service visit may have been faked amid health issues come days after footage showed a visibly uneasy Putin sat across from sidelined defence minister Shoigu, who appeared to slur his words as he read from a document
Putin’s poor posture and his apparently bloated face and neck sparked speculation about the Russian leader’s health, which has reportedly been in decline since his invasion of Ukraine
Meanwhile, the Russian leader’s poor posture and seemingly bloated face and neck, revealed in a video last week as he sat opposite defence minister Sergey Shoigu, sparked further speculation about Putin’s health.
Shoigu, who is in charge of the bloody invasion of Ukraine, has been noticeably absent from public view amid reports the defence minister and Putin’s relationship became strained in light of the heavy losses of Russian troops.
Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist and former adviser to Ukraine and Russia, said the video showed both Putin and Shoigu ‘depressed and seemingly in bad health’.
Shoigu does not appear to have fared any better than Putin in the eight weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine, with the defence minister slurring his words and reading from his notes following an apparent heart attack.
Last week, a Russian-Israeli businessman claimed Shoigu suffered a heart attack, which he suspects was caused by foul play.
Leonid Nevzlin claimed Shoigu had been in intensive car after suffering ‘a massive heart attack’ which ‘could not have occurred due to natural causes’, suggesting Putin’s longtime ally may have been the subject of an assassination attempt.
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