An oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin has been recorded saying that the leader is “very ill with blood cancer”, according to American magazine New Lines.
The magazine obtained a recording of a conversation that the unidentified oligarch had with a venture capitalist in March but said it could not verify the man’s claims.
The businessman said in the recording that Vladimir Putin had a surgery shortly before he ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine.
He was also heard criticising Putin for “ruining” the Russian and Ukrainian economies. “The problem is with his head. One crazy guy can turn the world upside down,” he reportedly said.
Expressing deep discontentment with the Russian leader, the oligarch added “we all hope” he dies.
Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, rumours have been circulating about Putin being unwell.
On May 9, the day of Russia's Victory Parade, which commemorated Soviet Union defeating Nazi Germany in the Second World War, Putin was seen covering himself with a blanket.
Putin sitting across from other politicians at a long table during meetings has also fueled speculation about his deteriorating health.
But the Kremlin insists that the Russian leader is well and the use of the table is just a coronavirus-related precaution.
Putin is facing international condemnation for ordering the invasion of Ukraine. Since February 24, thousands of civilians have been killed in Russian attacks and over 61 lakh have fled Ukraine.
On Friday, in the first crime trial related to Russia's invasion, a Ukraine court held a preliminary hearing in the case of a 62-year-old civilian's murder by a Russian soldier, news agency Reuters reported.(With inputs from Reuters)