There has been a lot of speculation about the health of Vladimir Putin since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine.
Reports and speculation have ranged from Parkinson’s to cancer. My colleague Bob Hoge noted that Putin pulled out of a hockey game that he has historically always played in. He sent a video message, despite being at the same resort where the game was being played. He’s previously claimed that hockey has helped his longevity, and he’s used his participation in the game to shut down rumors about his health. In the video, he was seen with dark blotches on his cheeks, according to the reports. He was also seen limping as well as having a blanket on his legs during the Victory Day parade on Monday.
Now there’s a new report that Putin is “very ill with blood cancer.”
According to the report from New Lines magazine, a Russian oligarch who is close to the Kremlin admitted on an audiotape to a Western venture capitalist in mid-March that Putin had surgery on his back related to the blood cancer.
But the recording represents rare testimony by someone with proven ties to the Russian government that its fanatical dictator may well be seriously unwell. And the oligarch had no idea he was being recorded.
A Western venture capitalist taped the conversation in mid-March without the oligarch’s foreknowledge or consent. The source provided the recording to New Lines on the condition that we not publicly identify him. He says he betrayed a colleague’s trust out of disgust with the war in Ukraine — a disgust his secretly recorded interlocutor evidently shares. “He absolutely ruined Russia’s economy, Ukraine’s economy and many other economies — ruined [them] absolutely,” the oligarch says of Putin. “The problem is with his head. … One crazy guy can turn the world upside down.”
The oligarch who New Lines calls “Yuri” said they all hope Putin dies.
Yuri also lets rip, denouncing the war in vehement terms, trashing the Kremlin’s initial pretext of “trying to find Nazis and fascists.” Yuri then goes on to say that “we all hope” Putin dies from his cancer or possibly from some internal intervention in Moscow such as a coup to spare Russia from further misfortune — either an accidental switch of pronoun or one reflective of shared oligarchic opinion. Furthermore, Yuri personally blames Putin for killing “more than 15,000 Russian soldiers and 4,000 or 5,000 civilians in Ukraine. It’s unbelievable. For what? He killed more people than in 10 years in the [Soviet] Afghan war.”
It’s important to note that people can get thrown in jail for any “disinformation” there, so people likely would not be telling idle gossip, knowing what the result might be. New Lines says they know who the oligarch is but aren’t identifying him for obvious reasons. They note it’s not been a good time to be an oligarch.
In all, eight oligarchs, many involved in Russia’s lucrative energy sector, have turned up dead since January; two under eerily similar circumstances as geographically distant as Catalonia and Moscow, alongside their wives and children, whom they were thought to have murdered before committing suicide.
On top of that, the FSB has been ordered not to speculate on Putin’s health and to ignore speculation that he only has months to live. That of course has the opposite effect, making people believe that there is a serious problem underway. When the FSB doesn’t want you talking about something, chances are that means it’s probably true.
Finally, the Ukrainian head of military intelligence, Major General Kyrylo Budanov also told Sky News that Putin was seriously ill and that a “coup was underway.”
Interview of the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, with Sky News:
– The turning point will come in the second half of August.
– We will reach our administrative borders.
– This will lead to a change in the political leadership of the Russian Federation. pic.twitter.com/Q4rUZzLKho
— Ruslan Trad (@ruslantrad) May 13, 2022
The breaking point will be in the second part of August.
“Most of the active combat actions will have finished by the end of this year.
“As a result, we will renew Ukrainian power in all our territories that we have lost including Donbas and the Crimea.”
General Budanov also told Sky News defeat in Ukraine would lead to the removal of Russia’s leader and the country’s disintegration.
“It will eventually lead to the change of leadership of the Russian Federation. This process has already been launched and they are moving into that way.”
Does that mean a coup is under way?
“Yes,” he responded.
“They are moving in this way and it is impossible to stop it.”
He claimed Mr Putin is in a “very bad psychological and physical condition and he is very sick”.
Budanov obviously has a reason to push propaganda, but it adds one more voice not only to the “Putin is very ill” club, but also that he’s facing people that want to take him out at home.