Rumor Does Vladimir Putin have Parkinson’s?

Scepticalscribe

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I don't have footage of Putin, but - since @PearsonX first flagged this possibility - I have done a little thinking and sniffing.

The first obvious point is that Mr Putin has been seen little in public since March; he is known to be something of a hypochondriac, and obviously, since then, we have had Covid to contend with, and - unlike Mr Trump - he has taken what some may argue are extravagant precautions and protections to ensure that he does not contract this condition.

The precautions that those who shared the reviewing platform for the May Day parades had to undertake in advance (a fourteen day quarantine at state expense in state supplied accommodation before they were even permitted to share public space with Mr Putin) suggested a strong desire to take all reasonable and some unusually stringent precautions.

However, secondly, while much attention has been focussed on the constitutional changes passed earlier this year (the referendum which approved them was delayed due to Covid) which would have allowed Mr Putin yet further terms in office, it is also worth noting, that there are bills currently before the Russian parliament which will allow former presidents immunity from prosecution for life, (yes, theoretically this can be rescinded, but only with a two thirds majority in both Houses of Russia's legislature and passed by both Houses) while also possibly conferring upon them (former presidents) lifetime membership of Russia's upper house, the Senate, (which would grant the legal fig leaf of parliamentary immunity from prosecution).

The timing of the introduction of these bills is indeed curious, given that the constitution had been altered earlier in the year to allow for Mr Putin to serve a further two terms in office without crashing up against constitutional term limits.
 
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Eric

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Yeah, what we have now is an official denial from the Kremlin.
That said,
1) I'd wait for some more reputable news sources to cover this
2) If you guys have footage on Putin walking since 2015, post it here and we can analyze it.
Fair enough, Thomas posed it as a question and we put a label on it to be clear. Otherwise let's discuss.

IMO anything coming out of the Kremlin is just as valid as if it came from a Trump tweet. I agree that video (or especially the conspicuous absence of one) will probably tell us a lot. I'm not expert on the disease but we do know that when it starts to advance we see outwardly visible signs.
 

Scepticalscribe

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Whatever about emerging (or not) from his palatial dacha outside Moscow, in recent months, and Covid restrictions notwithstanding, (and yes, they are considerable), it is also worth noting that Mr Putin seems to have had very few face-to-face meetings with foreign leaders since March, and (unlike Mr Trump) this was an area at which he excelled, and was invariably formidably well briefed and in complete command of his material and exceptionally capable of conducting high level negotiations to his best advantage. (You don't have to like him - or his policies or stances - to be able to accept or recognise that he is very bright and exceedingly capable).

Yes, while - on account of Covid - some EU summits - and many ministerial meetings - have taken place using the Zoom platform, others have still taken place face-to-face with appropriate health precautions in place, but this does not appear to be the case with Mr Putin.
 
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U

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Fair enough, Thomas posed it as a question and we put a label on it to be clear. Otherwise let's discuss.

IMO anything coming out of the Kremlin is just as valid as if it came from a Trump tweet. I agree that video (or especially the conspicuous absence of one) will probably tell us a lot. I'm not expert on the disease but we do know that when it starts to advance we see outwardly visible signs.
Yes, I trust the Kremlin as much as I trust Trump's statements. I just mentioned it because they considered the issue important enough for a denial.
I have some expertise in this, but I have friends who are "card carrying" experts on the topic. So reviewing good footage would be fun.

The first symptoms are usually (practically always if you look for it...) autonomic mainly constipation, and erectile dysfunction.

He has a baseline expressionless face, so the masked facies would be tough to call... Unless we have good footage indicating change.

I've seen some footage with reduced arm swing on the right, but his motion was really fluid so it seems more habitual than pathologic.
 
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U

User.45

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Fair enough, Thomas posed it as a question and we put a label on it to be clear. Otherwise let's discuss.

IMO anything coming out of the Kremlin is just as valid as if it came from a Trump tweet. I agree that video (or especially the conspicuous absence of one) will probably tell us a lot. I'm not expert on the disease but we do know that when it starts to advance we see outwardly visible signs.
Appreciate the flair
 

Zoidberg

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I'd like to add that it wouldn't be the first time that an authoritarian regime leaks false information to have Western media speculate about their leader's health, only for him to appear a few days or weeks later stronger than ever. It's an easy way to muddy the waters, by stirring up a buzz and have the western media cry wolf, in anticipation for when there will actually be something going on. North Korea has done that in recent years.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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I'd like to add that it wouldn't be the first time that an authoritarian regime leaks false information to have Western media speculate about their leader's health, only for him to appear a few days or weeks later stronger than ever. It's an easy way to muddy the waters, by stirring up a buzz and have the western media cry wolf, in anticipation for when there will actually something going on. North Korea has done that in recent years.

Vladimir Putin is more subtle than that.

And so is his Kremlin: This is not the Trump world, of pathological and relentless mendacity; it wouldn't work, if it was - for Russians grew up under the Soviet system, they know lies.

Rather, much more subtle, and thus, far harder in some ways, to deal with, this is a world where truth and lies are cunningly mixed, cleverly blended, the latter used as a weapon, a tool, in pursuit of enigmatic ends, and strategic misdirection - not the outraged howls of a entitled child caught yet again with his fist in the sweet or candy jar and furiously denying what he holds in the face of flagrant evidence to the contrary.

Yes, but - given Mr Putin's earlier displays of extravagant and exaggerated machismo, and rude good health, given the fact that his public appearances since March (yes, Covid occurred, but Russia downplayed the impact of Covid even as its leader discreetly disappeared) have been extremely limited, and given the rapid response of the Russian state media which denied these rumours, (they could easily have ignored it), plus given the fact of the curious bills currently before the Russian parliament granting immunity for life for former presidents, I suspect that something might be afoot.

@PearsonX mentions the reduced arm swing on his right arm, but - well over a decade ago - I read a fascinating article which seemed to argue that Mr Putin may have been partially less mobile since birth on his right side, - that he had by-passed one of the stages of locomotion while learning to walk - and that his gait may have reflected this; certainly, he has always sat somewhat stiffly, and his right leg does not move while seated.

However, on the wider topic of governments and elections (a very topical subject) while one of the functions of elections has always been to grant a legitimate mandate to the candidate or party that emerges victorious, - and it allows for a lawful, peaceful, transfer of power, another - equally important function - is that (absent egregious conduct while in office), in a state that follows the rule of law, it also allows for a legal departure from office for the defeated candidate or party; in other words, they can quit office and not fear arrest, the seizure of themselves or their possessions, and that they can retire, or live in peace.

Autocracies, authoritarian regimes, or dictatorships always have this little difficulty with the succession; this is why their term of office usually ends when they are overthrown, assassinated, or die in their beds; nominating a successor runs the risk of power ebbing, and the successor cultivating a independent power base, and then turning on them and sacrificing them, in turn, in order to placate the population (or the party).

Therefore, in the absence of a device - such as elections - engineering a transfer of power - a safe transfer of power - to a successor is not always easy.

I have long thought that one of the reasons autocrats cling to power is fear, - of what will, or may, happen once they are overthrown, or otherwise dispense with power - as much as megalomania and an appetite for boundless power.

This cautionary tale is as relevant to Mr Trump as it is to Mr Putin.

In fact, the examples of autocrats who have voluntarily relinquished power are vanishingly few; off hand, a few names come to mind, Lucius Cornelius Sulla (of the Roman Republic) who resigned his formal office of Dictator around 78-79 BC (an action Julius Caesar despised him for, not understanding just how completely secure Sulla actually was) and quit public life for a cheerfully debauched retirement, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the 1550s, who decided to spend some time in a monastery tending to his soul having spent much of the previous 30 years reigning as probably the most powerful ruler in Europe, and who proceeded to carve up his extensive realm between his son and his brother before abdicating, there are others, but not many.

So yes: At some level, I think that Mr Putin may be discreetly preparing the ground for some sort of political action - while possibly hoping that the attention of the world is distracted elsewhere because it is focussed on the apparently endless exhaustive electoral politics of the US. That is the sort of subtle stuff that the Kremlin would attempt: Release something worth noting while the world is busy looking somewhere else.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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well Putin is going to call in his loans to trump I bet.

I doubt it.

They will wait to see how the transition is managed, (or mismanaged) in the US, and also wait to see how damaged Mr Trump is (both personally and as a brand) by his defeat, how wounded the US (politically) is, - or remains - and also what state the GOP is in.

My view is that Mr Putin - who is nothing if not patient - will play a longer game than that, as, to "call in the loans" - assuming that this is who they fall due to - would serve to send an unfortunate message to anyone who may have (or enjoy) similar arrangements elsewhere. Why would anyone ever bother with such entanglements if this is how they end? Nasty endings are for Russians who transgress - they would be viewed as traitors; foreigners can expect rewards, some sympathy, even sanctuary.

Money is not the only currency in play, here, and this sort of chess board will have carrots and sticks and yet other stimuli on offer. Think: What is worth more in this sort of game? What currencies - and I don't just mean dollars, or roubles, I mean politics, power, reputation, soft power, time - are traded and what is their worth?

Which is worth more?

A few million, or hundred million, (in some currency, such as dollars) repaid? Or the international reputation of the US thrashed so that their international word is considered worthless, their reputation ruined, the idea of democracy as something admirable, laudable, something worth emulating and aspiring to, is shattered, and is deemed both hilarious and risible if supported by the US, because their political credibility as an actor and as a role mode is utterly shredded?
 
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U

User.45

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Vladimir Putin is more subtle than that.

And so is his Kremlin: This is not the Trump world, of pathological and relentless mendacity; it wouldn't work, if it was - for Russians grew up under the Soviet system, they know lies. Rather, much more subtle, and thus, far harder in some ways, to deal with, this is a world where truth and lies are cunningly mixed, cleverly blended, the latter used as a weapon, a tool, in pursuit of enigmatic ends, and strategic misdirection - not the outraged howls of a entitled child caught yet again with his fist in the sweet or candy jar and furiously denying what he holds in the face of flagrant evidence to the contrary.

Yes, but - given Mr Putin's earlier displays of extravagant and exaggerated machismo, and rude good health, given the fact that his public appearances since March (yes, Covid occurred, but Russia downplayed the impact of Covid even as its leader discreetly disappeared) have been extremely limited, and given the rapid response of the Russian state media which denied these rumours, (they could easily have ignored it), plus given the fact of the curious bills currently before the Russian parliament granting immunity for life for former presidents, I suspect that something might be afoot.

@PearsonX mentions the reduced arm swing on his right arm, but - well over a decade ago - I read a fascinating article which seemed to argue that Mr Putin may have been partially less mobile since birth on his right side, - that he had by-passed one of the stages of locomotion while learning to walk - and that his gait may have reflected this; certainly, he has always sat somewhat stiffly, and his right leg does not move while seated.

However, on the wider topic of governments and elections (a very topical subject) while one of the functions of elections has always been to grant a legitimate mandate to the candidate or party that emerges victorious, - and it allows for a lawful, peaceful, transfer of power, another - equally important function - is that (absent egregious conduct while in office), in a state that follows the rule of law, it also allows for a legal departure from office for the defeated candidate or party; in other words, they can quit office and not fear arrest, the seizure of themselves or their possessions, and that they can retire, or live in peace.

Autocracies, authoritarian regimes, or dictatorships always have this little difficulty with the succession; this is why their term of office usually ends when they are overthrown, assassinated, or die in their beds; nominating a successor runs the risk of power ebbing, and the successor cultivating a independent power base, and then turning on them and sacrificing them, in turn, in order to placate the population (or the party).

Therefore, in the absence of a device - such as elections - engineering a transfer of power - a safe transfer of power - to a successor is not always easy.

I have long thought that one of the reasons autocrats cling to power is fear, - of what will, or may, happen once they are overthrown, or otherwise dispense with power - as much as megalomania and an appetite for boundless power.

This cautionary tale is as relevant to Mr Trump as it is to Mr Putin.

In fact, the examples of autocrats who have voluntarily relinquished power are vanishingly few; off hand, a few names come to mind, Lucius Cornelius Sulla (of the Roman Republic) who resigned his formal office of Dictator around 78-79 BC (an action Julius Caesar despised him for, not understanding just how secure Sulla actually was) and quit public life for a cheerfully debauched retirement, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V in the 1550s, who decided to spend some time in a monastery tending to his soul having spent 30 years as probably the most powerful ruler in Europe, who carved up his extensive realm between his son and his brother before abdicating, there are others, but not many.

So yes: At some level, I think that Mr Putin may be discreetly preparing the ground for some sort of political action - while possibly hoping that the attention of the world is distracted elsewhere because it is focussed on the apparently endless exhaustive electoral politics of the US. That is the sort of subtle stuff that the Kremlin would attempt: Release something worth noting while the world is busy looking somewhere else.
10/10. Agree with every single word and reflects my exact thoughts. The reason I didn't immediately discredit the rumor is because there's no strategic advantage circulating such, especially with Putin's machismo which is pushed to the edge of absurd. So this rumor is either initiated by a Russian opponent of Putin or some western source, usually such thing would be responded to with some sort of tour de force. It didn't happen. The alternative is that it has some underlying truth to it, i.e. there is a potentially major health problem that may be better controllable than a progressive neurodegenerative disease, so planting an unrealistically dire picture could yield a strategic advantage of a surprise return. This was the strategy with Kim Jong-Un. However, even in that case, I think the health scare was real, and the strategy served a short-term goal: to rapidly dispel the idea of the supreme leader being just another mortal.

That said, I'll be totally honest. I do think that the Russian interference was decisive in the 2016 election. I've been hoping that it was only social engineering (i.e. strategically released fake news payloads) and not a hack. Seeing the results of this election I tend to think (thankfully) it was "only" social engineering, but I'm honestly surprised that the Russians didn't manage to wreak havoc or even cause minor inconveniences beyond what was achieved through sabotaging the USPS. So to me that is an indicator that something is indeed going on in Russia.
 
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