As Russian president Vladimir Putin celebrated a national holiday with a patriotic speech, his distance from the audience resulted in a large amount of comments on social media.
A tiny man, terrified of his people (note the distance between him and the audience), committing enormous crimes,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, wrote on Twitter.
The Russian leader appeared to be many feet away from the audience at the Russia Day awards ceremony in the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin speech did not address advances made by Ukraine in its recently launched counteroffensive, but he called on Russians to let their feelings “unite our society even more strongly” in order to give support for soldiers.
“Check the distance Putin has between himself and the audience,” Markus Hankins, publisher of Sweden’s Hela Hisingen news site tweeted, adding, “Paranoid much?”
The reason for the distance could be the Russian president’s reported fear of catching Covid-19 as for the past few years, Vladimir Putin has frequently been pictured meeting with world leaders at the Kremlin while seated at opposite ends of a long table. Earlier, a former Kremlin guard said in an interview with the investigative website Dossier Center that Vladimir Putin is “a self-isolating president.”
The former Federal Guard Service (FSO) guard Gleb Karakulov detailed how Kremlin staff “have to observe a strict quarantine for two weeks before any event, even those lasting 15 to 20 minutes. There is a pool of employees who have been cleared—who underwent this two-week quarantine. They are [considered] ‘clean’ and can work in the same room as Putin.”
Other users speculated that perhaps Vladimir Putin was not at the Russia Day ceremony Monday and instead his body double was.