It's the question on everyone's lips, perhaps the highest-profile disappearance in the international world: where on Earth has Russian President Vladimir Putin gone? It's the sort of thing you might've been slow to notice. After all, heads of state have busy schedules, and few people are so plugged in that they'd notice if one just vanished for a few days. But, according to multiple news outlets, that's exactly what seems to have happened. But never fear, because we've got four Vladimir Putin conspiracy theories to explain his disappearance — or at least tide you over until something actually credible comes along.
As CNN's Frida Ghitis notes, avid Putin-watchers on social media maintain he hasn't been seen since March 5, just over a week. That's a huge amount of time for the leader of a country to essentially be AWOL in the eyes of his citizens — former South Carolina Governor and current Representative Mark Sanford pulled a six-day vanishing act to have an extramarital affair in 2009, an act which forced his resignation.
In this case, the Kremlin is keen to tamp down speculation — they insist that his downtime is the result of an "illness," though giving no further details beyond that has only spurred further, furious speculation. Here are some of the guesses being kicked around, though remember, that's all they are: interesting guesses.
It's True That He's Sick, And He's Dying...
Given the Kremlin's excuse for Putin's absence, an undisclosed illness, it comes as little surprise that people would start to envision a Russia without him at the helm. In other words, what if Vladimir Putin is dying? Given the aggressive, physically robust presence he so deliberately presents through the media, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that Putin's getting older. He's 62 right now — not so old that you'd be instantly suspicious about his physical health, but certainly entering the years when risks of a catastrophic health issue increase.
...Or Maybe He's Already Dead
This is pretty straightforward. What if he's been dead for a while, and the Russian government isn't ready to break the news for some reason? This has been a particularly popular take on social media, as Tech Times' Jan Dizon notes — the rather morbid hashtag #putinumer, or "Putin is dead."
He's Been Overthrown In A Palace Coup
This one was floated by no less than Andrei Illarionov, a former aide to Putin who took to his LiveJournal (party like it's 1999) to blow the lid off things. As noted by The New York Times, Illarionov suggested that Putin's absence could be the result of a coup against him, backed by the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as his own chief of staff.
He's Attending The Birth Of His Child
This is a story that's seemingly picked up traction over the last 24 hours, based on a report by a Swiss tabloid called Blick. The idea is that Putin is actually hiding out in Switzerland for the birth of his fifth child, with girlfriend (and gold medal Olympic gymnast) Alina Kabaeva. The report, for what it's worth, suggests that the child is a girl. Much as you'd expect, the Kremlin has also strenuously denied this story.
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