By all accounts the Internet rumor that Russian President Vladimir Putin died is nothing more than a hoax started with a Facebook Page titled "‘R.I.P. Vladimir Putin," which garnered almost 1 million likes when it hit the Internet on Tuesday, March 10, 2015. The 'About' page stated the following:
"At about 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday (March 10, 2015), our beloved politician Vladimir Putin passed away. Vladimir Putin was born on October 7, 1952 in Saint Petersburg. He will be missed but not forgotten. Please show your sympathy and condolences by commenting on and liking this page."
Hundreds of Putin fans left messages, many were rightly skeptical, and while there is nothing strange about death hoaxes, a quick search shows they are a form of amusement for the hoaxsters themselves, what is strange is a recent DEBKAFILE report titled "Unconfirmed Russian Internet rumors that Vladimir Putin is dead " which states that "a short announcement of Putin’s death was seen briefly on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s website early Thursday, only to be removed after 20 minutes."
Medvedev is the sitting Prime Minister of Russia since 2012 and the former Russian President from 2008 to 2012, yet somehow, two days after the original hoax swept across the internet, his website fell for it long enough to put a death announcement up? With his connections being who he is and what he was, wouldn't he have known on Tuesday when the hoax was created that it was false?
Was his site hacked?
Add to the weirdness, we see a Reuters article, found on a Google search, screenshot below, reported on the postponement of Putin's scheduled visit to Kazakhstan saying "It looks like he has fallen ill," an unnamed source in Kazakhstan’s government told the agency, yet when the Google search link is clicked, it returns an error "Page not found", with "Our apologies, the requested page was not found. Please double-check the URL for proper spelling and capitalization. If you're having trouble finding a page in Reuters."
Vladimir Putin has postponed a visit to Kazakhstan, officials from both countries said on Wednesday, though the Kremlin dismissed another report that plans had changed because the Russian president was unwell.
Dauren Abayev, adviser and spokesman for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced the delay of the meeting between the two allies, originally scheduled for this week, without giving a reason or a new date.
Another Kazakh government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: "It looks like he (Putin) has fallen ill."
So a day after a Putin Internet death hoax goes viral, a mainstream media outlet reports Vladimir Putin's health was in question, with some of those Reuters articles being removed from the Internet, then two days after the initial hoax, the former president and present Prime Minister of Russia, briefly puts a death announcement up on his official website, then removes it, according to Debka.
As the headline states "There is something very strange about the Vladimir Putin death hoax story."
The Kremlin Thursday dismissed rumors that President Vladimir Putin was ill after he canceled a trip to Kazakhstan. The rumors flying through the Russian Internet claimed in fact that the 62-year old Russian leader had suddenly died. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked by Reuters if the president, who had not been seen on live TV since March 5, was in good health, replied "yes". "He has meetings all the time," he said by telephone. "He has meetings today, tomorrow. I don't know which ones we will make public." A Kemlin website photo of a Putin meeting on March 10 with a provincial government proved to be an old picture. Still, Russian financial markets were stable and the ruble improved in value.
Why an old picture? Why doesn't Putin just make a public appearance and put an end to the speculation?