Vladimir Putin has been accused of using actors posing as soldiers in his annual televised New Year’s speech and of wearing protective armor under his suit.
The 70-year-old Russian president was seen in footage released by Moscow delivering his recorded message while standing in front of several men and women in military uniforms. The clip then showed him raising his glass to the New Year.
However, keen-eyed viewers have suggested that Putin appears so paranoid that his position is under threat that the Kremlin used actors to pose as soldiers and medics for the address. Others spotted an unusual bulge under his suit jacket, suggesting he was wearing body armor as an extra precaution.
One of the alleged actors is a blonde woman standing over Putin’s right shoulder. Like the others, she is seen in military garb, having previously been awarded a medal by the Russian despot, glancing back and forth between him and the camera.
Vladimir Putin has been accused of hiring actors to pose as soldiers and wear protective armor under his suit for his annual televised New Year’s speech. Left image: A blonde woman, rumored to be a “paramedic,” was spotted at other public appearances by Putin
Social media users compared photos from past performances to several people who have been seen near Putin on more than one occasion, suggesting they may be actors or even members of his security detail
But it’s not the first time she’s been spotted with Putin.
In the broadcast, she was awarded a medal by the Russian President as a senior captain in the army medical service named Anna Sidorenko.
But media outlet Sibir.Realii – affiliated with Radio Liberty – shared claims that she was a mystery woman nicknamed Agent Cornetto after she was spotted selling ice cream to Putin when he attended an air show.
This wasn’t her first appearance at his events, either, the news site claimed.
The suspicion is that if it is indeed the same woman, she is a trusted member of his security service rather than a military medic.
“Realii has determined that one of the military officials who stood behind Putin during his televised address was a woman who has appeared on several occasions in various roles with the president,” the outlet said.
Putin is seen presenting a medal to the mysterious blonde woman before his televised New Year’s address
A woman who social media users said is the same as who stood behind Putin during his New Year’s address was spotted dressed as a sailor at a previous appearance by the Russian president
A woman believed to be the same person seen during Putin’s New Year’s address stands near the Russian president during an appearance at a church
“In September 2016, the president was photographed with fishermen on a lake in the Novgorod region — she was among them,” the outlet said.
The woman was photographed next to the Russian President in orange high-visibility clothing.
“And in January 2017, the same people were spotted at one [Orthodox] Christmas service in a monastery in Novgorod.’
Most were seen as his security guards rather than actual fishermen.
Two others have been photographed on numerous occasions with the mysterious women, who also posed as fishermen and church worshipers.
In 2017 and 2019, Putin “bought ice cream from the same saleswoman at the International Aerospace Show.”
At the Moscow Air Show, the blonde saleswoman was identified as Ekaterina Safonova, but is believed to be the same woman as on the other outings.
In 2019, she served Putin ice cream when he gave Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a vanilla cone. Two years earlier she had given the Kremlin boss a snack at the same place.
Sources at the air show said her only role was to serve Putin and after that she disappeared.
The outline of what some commentators have dubbed body armor can be seen under Putin’s suit, suggesting the Russian president took more precautions
The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper speculated that she is a colonel in the FSO – the Federal Protection Service – in charge of guarding the president.
The earlier claims about “Agent Cornetto” led to accusations that Putin is using his own security agents to pose as ordinary people – so he doesn’t have to meet with the public.
Health or safety concerns may be a reason for such action.
Sibir.Realii’s claim sparked a lively debate on social media in Russia over whether the characters in the New Year’s show were the same as in previous appearances.
Several images from Putin’s previous public events were shared, with Twitter users creating composite images and circling those who had appeared as “members of the public” on more than one occasion when they met the president.
The exhausted dictator delivered his speech from the headquarters of the southern military district near Ukraine, his officials said.
Amid rumors of his ill health and battle with cancer, he claimed to be leading Russians to “our common future, our true independence.” During his nine-minute speech, he coughed and stuttered several times.
Online commentators suggested Putin’s speech was a poor imitation of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s risky visit to the frontlines of the war, during which he was seen shaking hands with soldiers and presenting awards.
2022 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Oleksandra Matviichuk wrote: “Putin wanted to copy Zelensky, who came to the Ukrainian defenders in Bakhmut. But after ten months of full-blown war, even actors are in short supply in Russia.’