Putin Reportedly Took A Big Fall As Speculation Over Worsening Health Grows

The wellbeing of Russian president Vladimir Putin has been the subject of speculation for years after rumors of his poor health emerged. Some of the allegations are serious: it has been said that Putin has cancer, Parkinson's disease, and mental health illnesses such as dementia, per The New York Times, though none of these purported ailments have been confirmed. Some were quick to question Putin's mental health when Russia invaded Ukraine in February, such as the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev. "His position, what he's doing, makes us treat him like he has a serious disease," Sergeyev told WNYC's "The Takeaway."

A spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitri S. Peskov, also said that "information specialists" from the United States, Ukraine, and Britain were responsible for rumors about Putin's poor health. The director of intelligence for Ukraine's Ministry of Defense told Ukrainian publication Pravda this spring of Putin's alleged cancer diagnosis that, "Yes, we fully confirm this information. He has several serious illnesses, one of which is cancer."

Several intelligence officials, including the director of the C.I.A., William Burns, and head of the British intelligence agency M16, Richard Moore, expressed skepticism at claims of Putin's worsening health at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado in July. "As far as we can tell, he's entirely too healthy," Burns proclaimed. "There is no evidence that Putin is suffering from serious illness," Moore affirmed. Still, allegations continue. 

Putin allegedly has dramatic fall

Per Newsweek, a Telegram channel called "General SVR" that is supposedly run by a former Russian intelligence official — though the owner of the account has not been confirmed — alleged that Putin suffered a fall down several stairs this week, bruised his tailbone, and "[defecated] involuntarily" as a result of the fall and his poor health, per the Telegram post. "Putin suffers from oncology of the gastrointestinal tract, as a result of which he already experiences serious problems with digestion, and as a result of the fall, as it turned out, the main blow fell on the coccyx, which probably caused sharp pain," the English translation of the post read. The channel also alleged that Putin was wearing "special shoes" that help him not to slip.

Telegram, because of its partial encryption, is prone to being a vector for misinformation and politically-motivated disinformation, per Poynter. And because of the anonymous and unproven nature of the source and information, the Telegram post should not be taken as fact.

General SVR has also claimed that Putin would temporarily transfer his power as he underwent cancer surgery earlier this spring, per Snopes, though Snopes found "no verified or independent evidence to support these claims."

Many claims of Putin's ill health stem from videos or photographs of the Russian president, for example, this video of Putin clutching the corner of a table was speculated to be symptomatic of an illness, while this video allegedly showed IV tracks in Putin's hand.