The “body double” conspiracy theory, which claims that countless world leaders have been secretly replaced with doppelgängers, came this week for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An image showcasing alleged anomalies with Putin’s chin circulated across social media this week, with many believing that the Russian leader’s facial features dramatically changed.
In one such post from Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, users are asked to decipher which image of Putin is actually “the real one.”
Since being posted on Monday, Gerashchenko’s tweet racked up more than 32,000 likes and nearly 6,000 shares.
The post claimed that Putin, who visited occupied Mariupol, which Russia laid siege to at the beginning of the war, wasn’t actually touring the city. Since the war began, Putin’s been beset by claims of failing health. Internet users frisk any potential video of the Russian president for signs he is ailing.
Users quickly chimed in to argue that other features on Putin’s face undoubtedly changed as well.
“Moreover, look at the back of the noses, or at the different directions their hair grows,” one user wrote. “They’ve done a good job, but it’s clearly not the same person.”
The tweet even appeared to catch the attention of CNN political commentator and former Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger.
“Looks like they aren’t even trying that hard anymore,” he wrote.
Others took the conspiracy theory one step further by claiming that Putin didn’t merely have lookalikes but actual human clones.
Yet some correctly noted issues with the tweet, specifically the date in the first image. Although the picture claims to be from this year, a simple reverse image search shows it is from 2020.
BBC journalist Shayan Sardarizadeh also pointed out the origins of each photo, noting that the locations were incorrect as well while referencing Kinzinger’s retweet.
“It’s not a good idea for a former US congressman and a member of the House committee that investigated the January 6 Capitol riots to share Putin body double conspiracy theories that can be easily debunked,” he wrote.
Putin, who has repeatedly been accused of having a body double, is just the latest prominent figure to be wrapped up in the conspiracy theory. While it is true that world leaders sometimes use body doubles for security purposes, conspiracy theorists often allege that presidents and prime ministers have been completely replaced.
Other notable individuals accused of body doubles include President Joe Biden, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, former First Lady Melania Trump, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.