Russian President Vladimir Putin’s televised meetings with officials last week were staged with pre-taped footage and “deepfakes” to cover up his week-long absence after surgery, an anti-Kremlin Telegram account claimed Monday.
The 69-year-old strongman was recovering in almost complete isolation from his inner circle despite being seen on Russian state TV taking meetings, Telegram channel General SVR reported.
Footage showed him last week supposedly sitting down with Sergey Chemezov, CEO of state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec, and separately with Alexey Likhachev, chief of Russia’s nuclear power company Rosatom.
But the Telegram report, which could not be verified, claimed that the Kremlin used pre-recorded, or “canned,” footage to cover up his absence and make it seem that he’s still fully in control of the warring country.
The account, which is purportedly run by a former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service lieutenant general, also reported that during a May 20 videoconference meeting of Russia’s Security Council, a “deepfake” of Putin was used, because the president was “still too weak to take part in lengthy discussions.”
That night, according to the post, Putin’s condition worsened, but he rallied the following morning.
“Putin’s physicians recommend rest for him and urge him to avoid participating in meetings in person,” the Telegram channel’s writer stated.
Unconfirmed rumors about Putin battling cancer have been swirling for months, bolstered by the leader’s sickly appearance as of late.
Putin looked bloated as he sat across from Chemezov in Moscow in the footage released last Wednesday.
At various points throughout the meeting, Putin appeared to struggle to maintain the conversation and gripped the table…