Who’s Following Putin Around? And What Does it Mean for His Health?

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In recent days and weeks, there’s been much speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin may not be all that healthy. Some say he’s losing his mind, much like Joe Biden is. Others say he has Parkinson’s Disease, and still, others claim that he may have thyroid cancer.

Whatever the case, he’s certainly been visited by many doctors in the past few months and years.

As Project (“Proekt”), a Russian media outlet who’s been banned from Russia, has reported, the head of state seems to be constantly near one doctor in particular.

Dr. Yevgeny Selivanov has a medical specialty in “Peculiarities of diagnostics and surgical treatment of elderly and senile patients with thyroid cancer,” according to his doctoral thesis. Over the course of 166 days, he has made no less than 35 trips to see Putin at his resort home known as Sochi on the Black Sea.

However, another doctor seems to be even closer to the Russian leader. An ear, nose, and throat surgeon, Dr. Alexey Shcheglov, has been so near to Putin as of late that on a number of occasions and public events, he accidentally gets caught on camera with Putin, according to Project. Shcheglov has visited Putin at least 59 times in 282 days.

Additionally, an ENT specialist named Dr. Igor Esakov has made 38 trips to Putin’s home within 152 days.

Then, there are reported meetings with Ivan Dedov, the boss of Putin’s geneticist daughter who leads the National Medical Research Center for Endocrinology. During these meetings, the two are said to have discussed a new hormonal drug known as Tyrogin, which supposedly helps stop metastases following surgery.

Needless to say, as Project reports, “There is indeed talk in medical circles about the president’s health problems.”

The outlet reported that most became more poignant last September when Putin came out of isolation from COVID. He made it through only one event, a meeting with a group of Paralympians, before Putin suddenly announced that his isolation must resume because there were just too many COVID cases around.

But the action seemed odd to the man.

And since then, his strange behavior has only continued, most notably with him beginning to converse with people at rather great distances, such as sitting on the opposite side of a very large table from his advisors.

Before, during, and after this is when most of those above-mentioned doctors’ visits occurred.

But what does all of this mean about his leadership and ability to rule? Could it possibly affect his judgment?

After all, his rather sudden invasion of Ukraine was seen by many as rather “irrational.”

The director of the Russia Institute and professor of Russian politics at King’s College in London, Samuel Greene, says that Putin’s isolation and recent actions seem to be rather than different from the Putin we are used to. The Putin of old was nearly always surrounded by advisors and messages from those around him. Now, however, it just seems to be him.

Whether that’s because of health reasons or just that after so many years in leadership, Putin trust “his own judgment more than he trusts the judgment of those around him” is unknown, Greene says.

However, Davis Satter, a historian, author, and expert on Russia has a different idea.

He says that all this about his health could be a smokescreen to make us think he’s more dangerous. If we believe that Putin is either sick or crazy, we will deal much more cautiously with Russia than we might otherwise.

Still, John Mearsheimer, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, says that Putin’s behavior might not be strange, nor is it irrational, at least to those not brought up in Western society.

Basically, he says that far too many nations operate under what is called “liberal hegemony,” or the idea that all countries should think the same way and have roughly the same viewpoints. And when other nations’ standards or actions don’t align with those ideas, we believe they have gone mad.

Instead, Mearsheimer says, they simply have a different outlook. This would mean that while we might think of the invasion of Ukraine as irrational by Western standards, to Russia, it only makes sense.

So, what exactly are we saying about Russia’s leader at present? Well, we basically have no idea what is going on. And that’s likely just how he wants it.