Is Russian President Vladimir Putin dead? A mysterious Russian Telegram channel, “General SVR,” and Valery Solovey, a prominent Russian political analyst, claim so. Allegedly, Putin passed away on Thursday, Oct. 26, and the current figure is a double filling in for the sickly real Putin.
While few analysts, both Russian and Western, believe these claims due to a lack of concrete evidence, the detailed accounts provided by General SVR and Solovey enhance the credibility of their narrative. However, skepticism remains high, as imaginative individuals and provocateurs are known to fabricate such stories.
Despite doubts about General SVR and Solovey, the latter stands out as a credible analyst in Russian politics. His claims about Putin’s death and the supposed exile of Yevgeny Prigozhin may raise eyebrows, but Solovey’s analyses of Russia’s internal politics are often regarded as smart and incisive.
If Solovey isn’t a madman or a puppet, two possibilities remain. Firstly, as a potential opposition leader, he might aim to sow confusion among Russian elites and the public. Creating doubt about Putin’s health and existence could complicate the Kremlin’s plans for the 2024 presidential elections, raising questions about legitimacy.
The second possibility is that Solovey and General SVR are not genuine oppositionists but may have ties to security services or powerful elites. In this scenario, the intended effect of spreading death rumors would still be to instill doubt and confusion, but the involvement of establishment elites raises more significant concerns for Putin and the political system.
The current situation suggests a crack within the seemingly monolithic regime, indicating that the post-Putin power struggle has begun. Even if Putin is alive, the elites may believe he is too enervated or politically moribund to make a difference.
Whether Solovey’s protectors are democratically inclined or conservative reformers seeking to dismantle the worst aspects of Putinism remains uncertain. Solovey’s self-described politics as liberal conservative may hint at the nature of his protectors.
Regardless of Putin’s physical state, the controversy surrounding his rumored death indicates serious trouble. The claims made by General SVR and Solovey have reached hundreds of thousands of Russians, sowing seeds of doubt. Russian politics, already peculiar, is becoming more bizarre, and the coming weeks and months are anticipated to be full of surprises.
In this atmosphere of uncertainty, one must acknowledge that while Solovey and General SVR lack proof of Putin’s death, their critics also lack proof of his life, leaving the political landscape in a state of perplexity.