Video of Putin Fidgeting His Feet Sparks Fresh Health Speculation

A video of a meeting between Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon on Monday triggered new rumors that the Russian leader may be ill.

In a clip shared on Russian media and picked up by Ukrainian news agency Daily Ukrainian News, Putin can be seen continuously fidgeting his feet while talking to his Tajikistani counterpart, a behavior that appear at odds with the leader's normal conduct.

The unusual behavior was likely noticed by Rahmon too, who can be seen looking down at Putin twisting his toes and heels while talking about Tajikistan's security.

Rumors that Putin could be seriously ill have been circulating for the past two years but have strengthened in the past few weeks, with a clip from February 18 showing the Russian president's hand shaking uncontrollably while welcoming Belarusian leader Aleksander Lukashenko in Moscow.

Political analyst Valery Solovei has long claimed that the Russian leader was suffering from cancer, as well as Parkinson's disease, and that he had emergency surgery in February 2020.

Then, at the end of April, British tabloid The Sun reported that Russian media outlet General SVR had quoted a "Kremlin's insider" as saying that the 69-year-old Putin was to undergo a cancer operation, although the nature of the specific operation was unspecified.

The reports of health problems coincide with Putin being under intense pressure over Moscow's invasion of neighboring Ukraine, where Russian forces have met far stronger resistance than expected.

Pictures of Putin meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in April showed the president gripping the table between him and Shoigu, as well as slouching down in his chair.

During the May 9 military parade for Victory Day in Moscow, speculation around Putin's health grew as observers noticed a limp in the Russian president's walk, and pointed out that he sat with a blanket over his lap. The temperature was a relatively mild 48 degrees Fahrenheit that day in the Russian capital, but Putin was the only one who apparently needed extra cover.

In a leaked recording obtained by U.S. magazine New Lines last weekend, an unidentified Russian oligarch can be heard saying Putin is "very ill with blood cancer." The unnamed speaker said that the leader underwent back surgery linked to his blood cancer before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has now gone "crazy."

None of these claims have been confirmed by Russia, but Newsweek has reached out to the Kremlin's press office for comment.

Update, 5/16/2022 12:05 ET. This story has been updated to provide more context.

Vladimir Putin Kremlin in Moscow
Vladimir Putin at the meeting of the leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 16, 2022. Alexander Nemenov/AP/Getty