Unsteady Putin fuels Parkinsons rumours as he fidgets in church

Fresh speculation that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is suffering from a serious illness was fuelled last night after he attended a church service for Easter.

Putin, who turns 70 in October, seemed unsteady on his feet, at one point seemingly clutching a candle-holder for support during the service, with Easter celebrated on April 24 in the Eastern Orthodox faith.

Strengthening the belief that he is suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, the autocrat appeared to be twitching and chewing on his lip uncontrollably.

His movements seemed slow and deliberate, as if it was taking a serious effort to keep them under control.

While some of the facial bloating he has showed in recent weeks seems to have lessened, Putin looked thin and weak and a far cry from the “strongman” image that he likes to promote.

Texas Tech University body language expert Professor Erik Bucy told The Sun: "It’s an astonishingly weakened Putin compared to the man we observed even a few years ago.

"An able-bodied president would not need to keep himself propped up with a hand held out for leverage and would not be concerned about keeping both feet planted on the ground."

Video of a recent meeting between Putin and his defence minister Sergei Shoigu showed the Russian leader looking bloated and sitting hunched at the table, with one hand gripping the tabletop in an apparent effort to hide a tremor.

Unconfirmed reports say Putin is suffering from either thyroid cancer, or Parkinson’s disease, or both.

It’s because he feels his life slipping away, says Russia expert Mark Galeotti, that Putin is impatient to complete what he sees as his historic mission to rebuild the old Russian empire.

“He is desperate for a triumph of some sort and he could decide to gamble everything on a roll of the nuclear dice,” he wrote.

Putin cuts an increasingly isolated figure, refusing to take part in many face-to-face meetings – reportedly because he’s paranoid about catching Covid-19 – and has taken to ending Zoom meeting abruptly if he feels officials are telling him things he doesn’t want to hear.

Meanwhile, in recent weeks several high-ranking Russian oligarchs have died in mysterious circumstances and it's been suggested that they have been killed for criticising the attack on Ukraine, or for trying to take their millions out of the country.

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