Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly “very ill from blood cancer” according to an oligarch close to the Kremlin.

First reported by the New Lines magazine, news of Putin’s alleged cancer was obtained by the publication via a secret recording of the aforementioned unnamed oligarch, who, reportedly is an energy tycoon and among the 200 richest Russian businessmen.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, there have been numerous rumours about the Russian President’s deteriorating health, none of which have been independently confirmed.

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However, the oligarch’s claims of Putin having cancer, taped in secret by a Western venture capitalist, is perhaps the first by someone reportedly close to the Russian government.

In the recording, the energy tycoon can also be heard saying, “He absolutely ruined Russia’s economy, Ukraine’s economy and many other economies — ruined [them] absolutely. The problem is with his head. … One crazy guy can turn the world upside down.”

The oligarch went on to express his hopes of Putin’s demise, saying “we all hope” that the 69-year-old dies from cancer.

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The energy tycoon’s claims, which have not yet been independently confirmed, does appear to have some credence: according to investigative agency Bellingcat, Russian domestic security agency FSB, in a top-secret memo dated March 13, instructed regional FSB directors to not believe rumours about Putin’s “terminal condition.”

Christo Grozev, an investigator from Bellingcat also told New Lines, “The directors were further instructed to dispel any rumors to this effect that may spread within the local FSB units. According to a source at one of the regional units who saw the memo, this unprecedented instruction had the opposite effect, with most FSB officers suddenly coming to believe that Putin indeed suffers from a serious medical condition.”

That being said, it is unclear what kind of blood cancer Putin is suffering from, if at all he is ill.

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The Russian President’s recent public appearances do hint that the 69-year-old is not fully fit: during a large pro-war rally on March 18, Putin was filmed walking down the stage with his entire weight on his left foot. Later, during Russia’s Victory Day celebrations on May 9, the 69-year-old was pictured with a blanket on his lap despite temperatures being a very comfortable 8 degrees Celsius, something that is usual in Moscow. Putin’s walk during the Victory Day parade also suggested that the President was attempting to conceal a limp.

Medical experts interviewed by New Lines explained that there are types of blood cancer (lymphomas) or plasma cell cancer (myeloma) that can afflict bones. Myeloma can also lead to a compression of the spine, which results in a hunched posture, something that Putin appears to have had of late.

Doctors also told the publication that apart from very aggressive forms of cancer that require chemotherapy, steroids can be used to treat cancer, but they have two common side effects: while the first increases risk of infection due to lowered immunity, the second, interestingly, is “deeply irrational or paranoid behaviour.”