Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted he was provided the prospect to make use of a physique double for safety functions, however rejected the concept.
He mentioned the plan was tabled within the early 2000s, when Russia was preventing a struggle in opposition to separatists in Chechnya.
A 67-year-old former KGB agent, Mr Putin made a number of journeys to the area throughout the battle.
For years he has been the topic of conspiracy theories on-line, together with that he makes use of lookalikes for safety.
However Mr Putin, who has been in energy since 2000, mentioned he “declined these physique doubles” every time he was provided them.
The query was introduced up by Andrei Vandenko, a journalist who interviewed Mr Putin for Russia’s Tass information company.
Mr Vandenko mentioned “Putin’s double” and “Putin physique double proof” have been among the many hottest web searches related to the Russian president’s identify.
The interviewer requested Mr Putin: “Are you actual?”
In reply, Mr Putin confirmed he was actual earlier than denying he used physique doubles for safety causes.
He mentioned the concept was mooted throughout the 1999-2009 struggle, “on the most troublesome second of preventing terrorism”.
Mr Putin is because of step down as president in 2024, when his fourth time period of workplace involves an finish.
However there’s hypothesis he may search a brand new position or maintain on to energy behind the scenes.
He’s already the longest serving Russian chief since Joseph Stalin, who dominated the Soviet Union for greater than twenty years within the final century.
In January, Mr Putin proposed sweeping constitutional adjustments in his annual state of the nation tackle to lawmakers.
The complete penalties of these adjustments are usually not but clear, however analysts imagine they are going to guarantee he retains energy in some type.
Media playback is unsupported in your machine
Media captionPutin’s plans: What the Russian president’s shock means