Apparently Vladimir Putin has hopped on his trusty bear steed and has ridden off into the Siberian spring for some me time, because the Kremlin seems to have accidentally misplaced him.
Everyone has their off days, but when you’re the proudly virile and uncontested leader of one of the most-watched countries in the world, your days off make people nervous. Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t been seen for days, and now people are beginning to wonder why.
On Thursday, Putin’s spokesman announced that the president would not attend a meeting with the Federal Security Service (FSB), which he usually attends. But no, Putin was “absolutely” healthy, Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s Ekho Moskvy, before adding that the president’s handshake was so strong it could “break your hand.”
Putin’s absence at the FSB meeting comes just a day after he unexpectedly canceled a trip to Kazakhstan. “The visit has been canceled. It looks like he [Putin] has fallen ill,” an anonymous Kazakh official told Reuters afterward, prompting a flurry of speculation.
To make matters more confusing, on Wednesday the Kremlin released an image of Putin meeting with the regional governor of Karelia. But local Web site Vesti Karelii reported that Putin actually had met with the head of the Republic of Karelia, Alexander Khudilainen, on March 4. In fact,RBC.ru reports that a number of events posted by the Kremlin appeared to have been recycled from earlier events. If this is correct, the last time Putin was seen in public may have been March 5, when he met the Italian prime minister in Moscow.
Getting worked up by an absence of a few days may seem silly, but these things happen in authoritarian regimes: North Korea’s Kim Jong Un disappeared for weeks last year, intriguing the world. In that case, Kim later reappeared with no real explanation and continued going about his business as usual (don’t be surprised if that happens in Russia, too). Russia isn’t North Korea, but it’s still an intensely personalized political system. Little of political substance happens without Putin’s personal approval, and it’s hard to imagine how the country would respond if he really were sick.
Possible locations of Vladimir Putin:
- Undercover as a Starbucks barista in Des Moines
- Arctic hunting trip to punch baby seals to death
- Camping out at the Apple Store in NYC trying to get that $10k watch
- John Cole’s kitchen, making waffles
- Fighting time-traveling Nazis with Joe Biden (has anyone seen Joe Biden?)
- Taco Tuesday in the GRU cafeteria
- Center of the earth dino safari
- I don’t know, over there or something
- In his dacha playing Assassin’s Creed: Rogue all week
- Personally liberating Crimea from Ukraine, by himself, with muscles
- Under your bed RIGHT NOW
- Ditching Moscow for SXSW
- He’s really there, he’s just been wearing Groucho glasses and nobody recognizes him
- Your mom would know where Putin is right now, bam!
- Lost it when he heard about Leonard Nimoy and won’t get out of bed
- Invisible Ghost Putin From Beyond The Grave
- Has anyone checked the attic in the Kremlin?
- On location filming Sharknado 3
Where do you guys think he is?