Putin is not dead: Kremlin issues extraordinary denial after claims that he 'died at his luxury Valdai forest palace'

27 October 2023, 08:43

Not dead: Russian President Vladimir Putin pictured yesterday at the Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia
Not dead: Russian President Vladimir Putin pictured yesterday at the Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

The Kremlin has issued an extraordinary denial over ‘lies’ circulating that Vladimir Putin, 71, has died.

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It comes after a Telegram channel claimed the Russian president had died after being terminally ill for months.

Unverified claims surfaced that Putin had died at his Valdai palace, just north of Moscow.

Putin’s spokesman told state media RIA Novosti that the report was an “absurd information canard.”

A spokesman said: “These (kinds of stories) belong to the category of fake news, discussed with enviable tenacity by a number of media outlets.

“This brings nothing but a smile (in the Kremlin).”

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Earlier this week Peskov was forced to deny that Putin had suffered a heart attack and he was also forced to counter reports that the Russian president used a doppelgänger for certain events.

Putin (C), Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov (L) and Roscosmos Space Coropration Chief Yuri Borisov (L) at the Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia in Korolev, Russia yesterday
Putin (C), Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov (L) and Roscosmos Space Coropration Chief Yuri Borisov (L) at the Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia in Korolev, Russia yesterday. Picture: Getty

The full Telegram post read: “Attention! There is currently an attempted coup in Russia!

“Russian President Vladimir Putin died this evening at his residence in Valdai. At 20.42 Moscow time, doctors stopped resuscitation and pronounced death.

“Now the doctors are blocked in the room with Putin's corpse, they are being held by members of the presidential security service on the personal orders of Dmitry Kochnev [director of the Federal Guard Service], who is in touch and receives instructions from the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev.

“Security for the president's double has been beefed up. Active negotiations are underway.

“Any attempt to pass off a double as the president after Putin's death is a coup.”

Russia is facing separate claims that officers have been executing soldiers who have failed to follow orders and is threatening entire units with death if they retreat from Ukrainian artillery fire.

It is a development that reflects Russia's morale problems 20 months into its grinding invasion of Ukraine, said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

"It's reprehensible to think about, that you would execute your own soldiers because they didn't want to follow orders, and now threatening to execute entire units, it's barbaric," Mr Kirby told reporters. "But I think it's a symptom of how poorly Russia's military leaders know they're doing and how bad they have handled this from a military perspective."

The White House has downgraded and released intelligence findings about Russian action over the course of the war.

In the past, the administration has said it has acted to disclose the intelligence to highlight plans for Russian misinformation and other activity so allies remain clear-eyed about Moscow's intent and Russia thinks twice before carrying out an operation.

This latest unveiling of intelligence about Russia's struggles comes as President Joe Biden is pressing the Republican-controlled House to go along with providing more funding for Ukraine as Kyiv tries to repel Russia.

Mr Kirby pointed to the information as he renewed a plea for Congress to pass a nearly 106 billion dollar supplemental funding request that Mr Biden unveiled last week. The funding request includes more than 61 billion dollars for Ukraine.

"President Putin is not giving up on his aspirations to take all of Ukraine and as long as Russia continues its brutal assault we have to continue to support the Ukrainian people and their self defence, because his intentions are clear," Mr Kirby said.

"Putin basically said that if Western weapons to Ukraine stop, Ukraine would have a week to live. So to ensure that we can continue to do that it's critical that Congress step up and pass the supplemental requests that the president put forward last week," he added.

Mr Kirby did not provide any details on how many Russian troops have been executed for failing to follow orders or any specific examples of units threatened with execution for retreating from Ukrainian fire.

The Wagner Group military contractor was reported to have had a practice of executing those who fled.

The contract soldiers were pulled out of Ukraine after their leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, mounted an armed rebellion in June. There also have been reports, including from the British Ministry of Defence, that the regular Russian military has deployed "barrier troops" that threaten to shoot any deserters.

"They are in such desperate need to make some kind of progress, particularly in the Donbas, the Donetsk areas, that they are literally throwing young men into the fight who haven't been properly trained, haven't been properly equipped, and certainly are not being properly led," Mr Kirby said.

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