MOSCOW, February 27. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has confessed that the idea of having a body double was floated for the sake of ensuring the safety of the head of state in the early 2000s, but he rejected it.
"I discarded the idea of any doubles," Putin told TASS in an interview for the project entitled "20 Questions with Vladimir Putin." "This was during the toughest time of our war against terrorism."
Putin recalled that in the early 2000s, he had been advised that a body double should substitute for him at events where the head of state might be at risk. The idea was rejected once and for all.
Putin and his interviewer, Andrei Vandenko, found out that an Internet search for "Putin’s double" was among the most popular on the world wide web. The public at large often expressed similar assumptions as far back as 20 years ago. On December 24, 2001, a woman from the Kostroma Region asked this question during a live broadcast. She speculated that a double might be helpful when holding very important meetings, even top-level ones. Putin then replied that he had no political decoy. Another incident like this occurred in Sochi in August 2009, when Putin and then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev decided to take a stroll along the waterfront among locals and visiting holiday-goers. A woman then remarked that the two were really doubles of the president and prime minister. "We are not doubles, we are real," Medvedev replied, smiling back.
In August 2000, Yevgeny Murov, then head of Russia’s federal bodyguard service, the FSO, told TASS in an interview that Putin had no doubles. He dismissed all rumors on that score as gossip and nonsense. He acknowledged that Russia’s special services had to check from time to time on likely threats against the head of state that were coming from terrorists back then. Murov added that the decision to use a double would be tantamount to admitting that the security of the Russian leader left much to be desired. Such a measure was just unnecessary.
Episode 5 of the video interview is available at https://putin.tass.ru/en.