A recent speech by a Russian politician close to Vladimir Putin has sparked new speculations about the Russian President's health.
According to T-Online, the politician, Nikolai Patrushev, a former head of the FSB intelligence service and a member of the Russian Security Council, was seen in a bizarre video where he spoke about Putin in the past tense.
Dressed entirely in black, Patrushev stood at a lectern with a large screen in the background displaying images of Putin. The context and timing of the video are unclear.
In his speech, Patrushev reminisced about the need for strong leadership following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s.
He referred to Putin as a leader who was initially Prime Minister, then elected President, and according to the constitution, became the chairman of the Russian Security Council. However, his use of the past tense while speaking about Putin raised eyebrows.
Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov, a former FSB member, mocked the appearance on Twitter, questioning if a memorial service had begun and referencing predictions by Russian analyst Valery Solovei, who claimed Putin died on October 26.
The Kremlin has repeatedly dismissed rumors about Putin's death. However, concerns about his health persist. Putin recently made several verbal mistakes during a meeting with the President of Kazakhstan, appeared distracted during a video conference, and was noted to have unusually puffy cheeks in a photo.