Russian President Vladimir Putin may have staged a recent visit to a military hospital in Moscow to meet with wounded soldiers, according to eagle-eyed online users who claimed to have recognized one of the “patients” from a previous event.
Wearing a white lab coat, Putin was seen on video and in still photos talking to pajama-clad soldiers at Mandryk military hospital, which marked his first such visit since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine.
Putin was accompanied on the visit by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. He asked one of the soldiers standing at attention next to their beds about his baby son, telling him: “He will be proud of his dad.”
After the hospital visit, Putin hailed the troops as “heroes” during a televised meeting with government officials.
But a day later, Adam Rang, a self-described “counter-propaganda” activist living in Estonia, tweeted that one of the soldiers in the hospital looked eerily familiar.
“Putin met with a wounded solider who, by a strange coincidence, was also a factory worker he previously met,” Rang stated.
Rang shared a photo of the purported soldier in the hospital room, and another image allegedly showing the same man with a receding hairline and a distinctive widow’s peak in a crowd of people meeting with Putin on another occasion.
Rang and Ukrainian race car driver Igor Shushko also shared a compilation of photos showing a cast of recurring characters meeting with Putin years apart.
“In case you were wondering how #Putin can possibly risk being in the presence of regular #RussianPeople. He never does,” Shushko tweeted.
The allegation that the hospital photo-op was a fake was further bolstered by the mysterious writer behind the General SVR Telegram channel, who is said to be a former KGB spy with Kremlin ties.
In a Thursday post, the Telegram author argued that Putin did not visit the military hospital, and that video of his meeting with Russia’s wounded warriors had been pre-recorded, or “canned.”
“Putin and the FPS (Federal Protective Service) are certainly magicians-illusionists, but they are still a far cry from David Copperfield,” the post sarcastically concluded.