VLADIMIR Putin appears “bloated” and “weakened” in recent public appearances, and his behaviour indicates he may be suffering from a severe physical illness, body language experts have claimed.
Video from 2014 during Russia’s last invasion of Ukraine seems to show how the Russian president has become just a shell of his former self.
While Putin’s increasingly erratic actions in the war could also indicate a man on the verge of a physical or mental breakdown.
The 69-year-old has long prided himself on his “strong man” image, whether that be riding a horse topless, or going for a spin on a Harley-Davidson in full leather with a notorious biker gang.
Putin’s rapidly-changing face in recent years has also given rise to speculation that he may have undergone Botox or could even be addicted to steroids.
However, as noted body language experts have claimed, Putin’s face is not the only aspect of the Russian head of state to change in recent years.
In 2014, following Russia’s last invasion of Ukraine, Putin was filmed addressing his Federal Council, asking it to ratify the annexation of the previously Ukrainian territory of Crimea and Sevastopol as Russian.
He appears more animated, his face is thinner, his voice is calmer, and his body language more relaxed.
But just eight years later, video of Putin’s most recent public appearances seem to reveal a very different man.
As body language expert Erik Bucy from Texas Tech University explained: “The contrast with the Vladimir Putin of five or 10 years ago – when he was much more energetic and erect – is stark.”
Joseph Tecce, an associate professor of psychology at Boston College, adds: “We will soon see Putin suffer a nervous or physical breakdown as his body takes a beating from the stress emanating from the discordance between his subjective reality and what will soon face him in the real world.”
Here are nine signs which could point to Putin’s increasing physical and mental fragility.
In the recent two appearances of Putin, Mr Bucy says: “He appears hunched over with a sagging posture. He appears uncomfortable, perhaps incapable of holding himself erect.
“He frequently looks down and to the side, addressing the table and the floor and only rarely looking up at his subordinate.”
Bucy told UK Times Online: “This is an aged, bloated, physically weakened version who appears to have come out of a long bout of isolation and perhaps physical illness.
He also points to “visible signs of unease and discomfort” in his delivery.
The abnormally large meeting table used by Putin in his recent public appearances has been widely mocked.
However, Bucy points out that the size of the 13-foot table, supposedly for social distancing during the pandemic, could signal “unease with close contact, another sign of physical illness or frailty”.
He goes on: “The distance also suggests he does not want to enable direct social comparisons with his invited guests… who may be in better physical condition.
“His use of video conferencing to meet with advisors is another sign of isolation and fear of contamination.”
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Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement, typically on one side of the body.
Symptoms are gradual and tend to start with a small tremor beginning in the hand or fingers.
Last month, a nurse shared a viral TikTok video online speculating on the Russian president’s health.
“Nurses and medical professionals, I’m gonna show you a video and this is why we should be terrified,” the user, who has the handle @musclesandnursing, said in the video.
He then cut to a clip of Putin appearing to struggle to walk, stumbling slightly on his right leg before approaching and shaking a man’s hand.
“I’m a nurse so I cannot diagnose, but I do know Parkinson’s and a stroke when I see it,” he went on, in the video which quickly racked up more than 2 million views.
Others have suggested his curious walking stance, whereby his right arm stays fixed by his side while his left swings freely, is a throwback to his KGB training.
Russian spies were taught to adopt a “gunslinger” stance, keeping their trigger finger close to their firearm at all times.
Putin today seems “laconic and low energy,” Bucy adds.
He contrasts his recent speeches “with his earlier, pre-pandemic appearances when he was far more energetic”.
“Putin’s body language reveals an attempt to hold back negative feelings,” Mr Tecce adds.
He also points to Putin’s “inappropriate behaviour” in the face of the war with Ukraine by “waving and smiling” at his interviewer, rather than appreciating “the seriousness of the situation”.
Tecce explained: “Putin’s inappropriate behaviour of smiling at a serious time may indicate his lack of awareness between his feelings of antagonism toward Ukraine and the reality of behaviour that may have serious consequences for him.
“This type of dissociation has been characteristic of people on the edge of break-down who make impulsive decisions which are out of touch with reality and which later haunt them.”
“Frequent lip licking also indicates dehydration or stress,” Bucy says.
“It is a Putin who presents less confidence even as he displays more aggression towards adversaries and subordinates.”
Once known for his icy-cool demeanour, in recent weeks, Putin’s behaviour has been defined by angry, bizarre outbursts, such as branding Ukrainian leaders as “Nazis” and “drug-takers”, or denouncing his own people as “traitors”.
Writing for Politico, Paul Taylor said Putin had destroyed his image as a “cold-blooded statesman” with his “unhinged televised ramblings”.
According to the US organisation parkinson.org, psychosis and behaviour changes can be a common symptom of Parkinson’s.
Between 20 to 40% of people with Parkinson’s report experiencing hallucinations or delusions.
President Putin appears to give away his stress levels in his excessive blinking rate, Mr Tecce adds.
He points to a “heightened blink rate of 56” times per minute in a recent clip, compared to the normal rate of 30 to 50 times a minute.
In the video, Putin also averts his interviewer’s gaze and looks down.
It comes as…
It comes as Putin sent a chilling warning to the West and oligarchs, telling “scum” traitors that Russians will “spit them out like a midge that flew into their mouths”.
In a televised address, the Russian leader warned the West would use “those who earn their money here but live over there” as a “fifth column” to “divide our society”.
Putin also claimed his “military operation” in Ukraine is going to plan despite his troops’ advance remaining largely stalled on the outskirts of Kyiv.
The contrast with the Vladimir Putin of five or 10 years ago… is stark
In the latest possible sign of Putin’s erratic decision making, it is feared dozens of children are dead after Russian forces shelled a theatre being used as a bomb shelter by up to 1,200 people in Mariupol on Wednesday.
Russian forces dropped a bomb on a theatre where civilians were sheltering in the besieged city of Mariupol, local officials say.
Deputy Mayor Sergei Orlov told the BBC between 1,000 and 1,200 people had sought refuge in the building.
The word “children” had also been written on the pavement in large letters outside the building, in a plea for Russian jets not to bomb it.
This morning a report on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme revealed the shelter had appeared on a Ukrainian TV news report just 20 minutes before the strike, suggesting the attack on sheltering kids was targeted.
The number of people killed in the attack is still currently unknown.
Mariupol’s deputy mayor Sergei Orlov told Forbes Ukraine that 80 to 90% of the city’s buildings had been bombed.
Home to 400,000 people before the war, the city is of huge strategic importance to Putin’s forces.
The port lies between the annexed territory of Crimea in the south and the breakaway pro-Russian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east.
Its capture could help Russia establish a much-needed land corridor across Ukraine.
A number of parents were tragically forced to leave their tiny premature babies behind at a hospital in Mariupol yesterday.
Amid frantic scenes as families try to escape, a devastating picture from the city’s hospital number three shows three premature babies in a bed – left behind by their desperate parents.
It comes after a pregnant woman and her unborn baby died after a Russian air strike destroyed a maternity hospital in Mariupol.
A harrowing picture showed the mother being stretchered from the hospital and she later screamed “kill me, kill me” when she found her baby was lost – before dying herself.
It’s reported 103 children have been killed by merciless Russian troops.
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