On persistent media narratives about Putin’s health

Social Media ridicules latest ‘Putin death’ claim spread by discredited source
Social Media ridicules latest ‘Putin death’ claim spread by discredited source

The topic of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s "death" continues to be actively discussed, including who would benefit.

So far, the information from the General SVR telegram channel and Professor Valery Solovyov about Putin's "death" is perceived by the vast majority of observers as a conspiracy fantasy or as an information provocation (with one or another motive).

I am also highly skeptical, but my skepticism is not absolute. I would leave about a twenty percent chance of a scenario similar to the one voiced by Professor Solovey. Nine months ago, I wrote a somewhat humorous text entitled "Will a New 'Impostor' Appear in Russia?" in which I reminded that there is a tradition of "impostors" in Russian history and, given the topic of Putin's lookalikes, this plot could reappear in various forms. Taking into account the recent and very strange Prigozhin rebellion, as well as the contradictory moods in the Russian elites, who knows what the possibilities are?

As for the origin of the theories, things are not so clear. Professor Solovyov has an ambiguous reputation. Many people suspect him of having ties to the Russian special services. Even the status of a "foreign agent" and the expulsion of Valery Solovyov from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations did not convince his critics. His predictions and statements have always had an air of conspiracy theory. But he is still often correct. Solovey has been talking about Putin's illness and possible death for several years. He has also been talking about Putin's doubles for quite some time.

Solovey has been talking about Putin's illness and possible death for several years

There can be a variety of explanations for this theory about Putin's alleged death.

The simplest version is that this is a particular information project by Solovyov, his "trick" that he has been promoting for several years. This is just the culmination. But why now? We don't know the answer to this question.

Another plausible version is that Professor Solovey is being used in the dark by his mysterious informants. We do not know who they are. They could be from the Russian special services or one of the Kremlin's "towers." The story of Putin's death may also have been spread for competitive purposes (the struggle of rival groups in the Kremlin, in particular, to discredit Patrushev). Professor Solovey himself, who does not hide his political ambitions, hints that this information could be used to delegitimize the current political regime in Russia. I am familiar with Valery Dmitrievich [Solovey], and he is a very complicated character. He is a man with excellent knowledge and good analytical skills. It is unlikely that he would act as a banal "cistern" and uncritically voice any information, especially such particular information. Ultimately, he is risking his reputation, and right now, that is an important asset. One thing is clear: he trusts his sources very much.

Suppose this is a deliberate information operation by the special services. While the opposition talks about Putin being dead, show that he is more alive than ever to discredit them. Some Russian opposition figures believe that rumors about Putin's lookalikes, as well as his illness and even death, are aimed at undermining them. They say, “Why fight against the regime? Just wait a bit, and Putin will ‘get over it’ himself.” Or “He has already passed away, but it will be announced later.”

Which of the explanations for Professor Solovey's "theory" is more plausible? I don't care much. In my opinion, it is not that important for Ukraine and Ukrainians. We are confronting imperial Russia, not just Putin. This confrontation may continue after Putin. Let the Russians doubt and ask the question their ancestors asked hundreds of years ago: "Is the Tsar real?"

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine