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Putin used to cut a macho man persona in images showing the Russian leader bare-chested atop a horse, grappling with judo opponents and bear hunting. Experts now claim he appears weak, uneasy and showing signs of Parkinson’s disease.
Body language expert Erik Bucy from Texas Tech University said: “The contrast with the Vladimir Putin of five or 10 years ago, when he was much more energetic and erect, is stark.”
Mr Bucy added: “He appears hunched over with a sagging posture. He appears uncomfortable, perhaps incapable of holding himself erect.
“He frequently looks down and to the side, addressing the table and the floor and only rarely looking up at his subordinate.”
He speculated: “This is an aged, bloated, physically weakened version who appears to have come out of a long bout of isolation and perhaps physical illness.”
Putin shows signs of a breakdown, experts claim
Vladimir Putin fights with Beslan Mudranov during judo training in Sochi
Mr Bucy explained that the widely mocked and unusually long meeting table Putin has been pictured at shows signs the Russian president feels uneasy with close contact, which he said was another sign of illness or frailty.
He continued: “The distance also suggests he does not want to enable direct social comparisons with his invited guests… who may be in better physical condition.
“His use of video conferencing to meet with advisors is another sign of isolation and fear of contamination.”
Joseph Tecce, an associate professor of psychology at Boston College, predicted Putin will soon suffer a nervous or physical breakdown with his body taking a beating stress.
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Vladimir Putin talking to a huntsman in the Tyva region
Putin hunts fish underwater in the remote Tuva region in southern Siberia
He pointed to Putin’s “inappropriate behaviour” in the face of the war in Ukraine by “waving and smiling” at an interviewer, rather than appreciating the seriousness of the situation.
Mr Tecce explained: “Putin’s inappropriate behaviour of smiling at a serious time may indicate his lack of awareness between his feelings of antagonism toward Ukraine and the reality of behaviour that may have serious consequences for him.
“This type of dissociation has been characteristic of people on the edge of break-down who make impulsive decisions which are out of touch with reality and which later haunt them.”
In February, a nurse shared a TikTok video, showing Putin struggling to walk.
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The TikTok user with the handle @musclesandnursing said in the video: “Nurses and medical professionals, I’m gonna show you a video and this is why we should be terrified.”
He then cut to a clip of Putin stumbling on his right leg before shaking a man’s hand.
The TikTok user then commented: “I’m a nurse so I cannot diagnose, but I do know Parkinson’s and a stroke when I see it.”
Parkinson’s is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting movement, typically on one side of the body.
Putin carrying a hunting rifle in the Republic of Tuva
Mr Bucy told The Sun Putin also appears to lack energy in contrast with earlier, pre-pandemic appearances when he was “far more energetic”.
He added that frequent lip-licking also showed stress or dehydration, adding: “It is a Putin who presents less confidence even as he displays more aggression towards adversaries and subordinates.”
Mr Tecce, speaking to The Sun, said Putin’s excessive blinking is also a sign of his stress level.
He pointed to a heightened blink rate of 56 times per minute in one clip, compared to the normal rate of 30 to 50 times for every 60 seconds.
It comes as US President Joe Biden appeared to call for regime change in Russia.
Biden told a crowd in Warsaw: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
A White House official later tried to argue Mr Biden’s point was the Russian leader cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region.
The official said Mr Biden was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to Mr Biden’s remark: “That’s not for Biden to decide. The president of Russia is elected by Russians.”
Mr Peskov later told Russia’s RBC that Mr Biden was the victim of many misconceptions.
He said: “This speech – and the passages which concern Russia – is astounding, to use polite words. He doesn’t understand that the world is not limited to the United States and most of Europe.”