Tucker Carlson interviewed a doppelgänger, claims Valery Solovei, who has attracted a huge following by speculating that the Kremlin leader’s real body is in a freezer
Over the past few months, a Russian political scientist named Valery Solovei has stoked a global frenzy with a sensational claim: that Vladmir Putin died last year and today is represented in public by a body double. The Kremlin’s elite, Solovei tells his half-million online followers, controls the double and has stuffed Putin’s body in a freezer.
Then on Thursday, journalist Tucker Carlson aired a two-hour interview with Putin. Solovei shrugged it off as a sham. Carlson, he said, interviewed Putin’s doppelgänger, who will now be passed off as real to millions of viewers in the West. “Putin is dead, irreversibly dead, he will not rise again, he will stay in the freezer,” Solovei said in a broadcast earlier this week.
Carlson declined to comment. The Kremlin, which often denies Solovei’s reports, didn’t respond to emailed questions.
Solovei’s message is part of a broader online rumor mill about Putin’s health that has gone into overdrive as Russia’s relations with the West soured. Google searches such as “Putin Parkinson’s” surged to what the company called peak popularity in 2020, while “Putin cancer” hit a peak in 2022. A peak in “Putin body double” followed last year, and searches for the term remained strong during the fall, when Solovei declared that Putin was dead.
Common videos on TikTok and X, formerly known as Twitter, have examined Putin’s habit of fidgeting with his foot during meetings with top officials, while others trace with Zapruder-like attention public appearances by men said to be the Russian leader whose facial features or mannerisms seem off.
Solovei’s purported revelations about Putin’s failing health have fed Western tabloids and flummoxed high officials. The rumors became so widespread that CIA Director William Burns felt moved to dispel them in 2022, in a rare public assertion on a foreign leader’s health. Putin, he told an Aspen security conference, “is entirely too healthy.”
Some see Solovei as a simple crackpot, but others spy a deeper meaning to his purported scoops. Instead of being brushed off as a gadfly or dissident, he is tolerated as a useful tool for the Kremlin, goes one theory. Speculation about Putin’s imminent demise can take the pressure off anyone in Russia or the West contemplating how to oppose him or his invasion of Ukraine, said Thomas Graham, a distinguished fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “What’s the point of worrying if he’s going to die anyway?” Graham said.