The press secretary of the President of Russia, Dmitry Peskov, on November 5, was asked a question about Vladimir Putin’s lookalikes during a marathon hosted by the “Znanie” society as part of the “Russia” exhibition forum. His response was, “We have only one Putin.”
“You probably read different Telegram channels. How many Putin look alikes are there? Experts are currently guessing whether there are three or four. Who are we seeing daily, like today when we laid flowers at the Minin and Pozharsky monument – is that the third or fourth doppelganger? It’s unclear, right? But we have only one Putin,” Peskov stated (quote from TASS).
Rumours about Putin’s lookalikes
Dmitry Peskov, in April of 2023, said the rumours that Vladimir Putin had lookalikes and was hiding out in a “bunker” were false. He made these comments during a marathon event organised by the “Znanie” society, and a portion of his address was broadcast over the “Mayak” radio Telegram channel.
“You’ve probably heard that Putin has many lookalikes who work in his place, and he’s sitting in a bunker. It’s another lie. You see, our president – he is, as he has always been, extremely active. It’s challenging to keep up with him for those who work alongside him,” Peskov said.
He stressed that the degree of health that Putin enjoys is something one can only wish for oneself. Peskov further emphasised that the term “bunker” refers to the coordination and analytical centre of the Russian government. This centre is a facility that is technologically advanced and allows the administration to monitor events in the country in real-time.
Peskov has, in the past, responded negatively to allegations that Putin has lookalikes. In an interview with RTVI, he stated that the President knows the doppelganger hypothesis and thinks it amusing.
The President of the Russian Federation travelled to the Kherson region and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) over the Easter holiday in April, which prompted renewed conversations about people who look like Vladimir Putin. Alexei Danilov, the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, asserted that Vladimir Putin’s “ordinary duplicate” travelled to these regions in place of the Russian President. This was a comment that Dmitry Peskov described as being “quite strange.”
In December 2020, there were allegations in the media indicating that the President has two similar offices, one in Novo-Ogaryovo and another in Sochi. One of these offices was reportedly located in Novo-Ogaryovo. According to these allegations, Vladimir Putin was absent from Moscow for several months during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the Kremlin did not release this information because “the public should think that the president is in the capital or nearby.” These reports, according to Peskov, were “absolute nonsense” and “literary exercises.”
Rumours about the existence of doubles for President Putin are spread not only through Telegram groups but also through sporadic articles in Western media. Officials from Ukraine take great pleasure in making these remarks. Peskov was obligated to deny the allegations made by Kirill Budanov, the director of the Main Intelligence department of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, that Vladimir Putin uses at least three doubles. Budanov made these allegations a year ago.
AI and Putin’s Doubles
Late in October, researchers used artificial intelligence to study the face, voice, and body movements of the Russian president on various occasions. This allowed them to conclude that at least two people were impersonating him.
According to a study conducted in Japan, Vladimir Putin may have used multiple duplicates for years. The breakthrough, according to the British tabloid The Sun, happened after Vladimir Putin’s high-profile visit to China, during which he sought to ally against the West.
The analysis employed facial recognition, body movement comparison, and voice-matching techniques. The investigation indicates that at least two Putin doubles were observed at various events. The similarity between Putin on Red Square and the president, who inspected the Crimean Bridge, was only 53%, as determined by facial recognition. Furthermore, the degree of similarity was a mere 40% in Mariupol and 18% between Putin’s appearance on the Crimean Bridge and his behaviour in Mariupol. Experts in facial recognition deemed it a “mismatch” and speculated that it might be a doppelganger.
Additionally, voice analysis revealed distinctions among Putin’s numerous speeches. The discourse delivered at the Eurasian Economic Union forum was notably dissimilar to other speeches. Graphs derived from voice analysis emphasised distinctions in sound stress and pronunciation.
Putin’s use of body doubles at public events, including a concert in support of the military and a visit to a helicopter facility in Siberia, was also discussed by the researchers. A doppelganger of Putin was observed frequently touching his nostrils and flailing his arms, which deviated significantly from his customary demeanour.
Body language analysis further substantiates the employment of Putin’s duplicates. The degree of similarity between recordings depicting walks with Xi Jinping and those captured during a naval parade was 86%. Even though the gaits were “similar,” it remains possible that this is a double.