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    From Deer Blood Baths to Eating Quail Eggs

    Rumors and speculation surrounding Vladimir Putin‘s health have swirled in recent weeks as Russia’s globally-condemned invasion of Ukraine continues.

    Russian news outlet Meduza has reported that some of the Russian political elite are unhappy with the current situation but think that “only a major health issue could drive the president from office.”

    Between February 24 when the invasion started and May 27 this year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has killed 4,031 civilians in the country including 92 girls, 100 boys, and 69 children whose sex was not yet known according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    While the Russian leader’s health is being questioned now amid rumors of cancer or Parkinson’s disease, media reports in the past have presented a very different picture of Putin—one of a healthy president with a liking for sports and a dislike of smoking.

    Here are some things about Putin’s lifestyle that have been reported in recent years, though Newsweek could not independently verify them.

    Rumors and speculation surrounding Vladimir Putin’s health have swirled in recent weeks. In this combination image, Vladimir Putin rides a horse during his vacation outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia,2009. An insert of Quail eggs and a Deer both depicting some of the Russian Prime Minister’s health rituals from over the years.

    His ‘Simple’ Diet

    Various reports exist about how Putin’s diet works and what he eats. Back in 2014 Ben Judah, author of Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell in and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin, wrote in a Newsweek article based on multiple interviews that the president tends to eat a late breakfast described as “substantial” that often incorporates cottage cheese. Judah also described him as being fond of quails’ eggs.

    Other reports are more vague, including one from Pravda, a newspaper once owned by the Soviet communist party, which stated that he prefers healthy food and has a liking for fish, though this is difficult to verify.

    Most recently, Russian state-owned news agency TASS stated in March 2021 that Putin enjoys food described as “simple” but avoids baked foods, citing an interview with Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov in the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper.

    A Lack of Smoking and Drinking

    Another claim attributed to Peskov is that Putin does not approve of smoking and that there aren’t many smokers in the president’s close circle.

    According to TASS in 2019, Peskov told reporters: “The president has never approved of smoking because he advocates a healthy lifestyle.”

    As far as drinking goes, Putin is not teetotal and has even stated himself that he would sometimes get bottles of German beer sent to him by Germany’s former chancellor Angela Merkel.

    “Angela sends me some bottles of Radeberger beer from time to time,” he said in a 2018 campaign video according to EuroNews.

    Yet he has been critical of Russia’s drinking culture and in 2010 put plans in place to cut alcohol consumption in Russia in half within a decade. A World Health Organization report nine years later found that Russia, which it said “has long been considered one of the heaviest-drinking countries in the world,” saw its alcohol consumption decrease by 43 percent from 2003 to 2016.

    Sporty Image

    Putin playing ice hockey
    A photo of Putin playing hockey in Sochi, Russia in February, 2020. Putin has often been portrayed as sporty.
    Mikhail Svetlov/Getty

    It has long been known that Putin has a well-crafted macho and sporty persona. Over the years various photos of the leader have been released by Russia’s presidential press service including snapshots of him hunting, flying on a motorized hang glider, fishing shirtless, and playing hockey.

    “As Putin reaches his 60th birthday, it’s very important for him to portray the image of vigor, youth, health, dynamism,” Clifford Gaddy, a Brookings Institute economist specializing in Russia, told Politico back in 2014. Putin is now 69.

    Former U.S. president Barack Obama had a notable opinion on the way Putin was presented or presented himself several years ago. “My sense is that’s part of his shtick back home politically as wanting to look like the tough guy,” he told NBC News.

    Deer Blood Claim

    Earlier this year, Russian investigative news outlet Proekt reported that Putin would occasionally bathe himself in blood obtained from deer antlers—an activity that is “torturous” for the animals but allegedly has health benefits according to its advocates, though there is not conclusive evidence for this.

    The activity was initially recommended to Putin by Sergei Shoigu, then-head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations in the mid-2000s and Putin has allegedly gone on to do it multiple times.



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