Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said the presidential premises outside Moscow and in Sochi are not identical. “This is not true,” he told reporters on a conference call on Wednesday. Peskov said the Proekt report was part of a recent series of shows about Putin’s personal life that was a “media campaign, media attack” on the president.
“The president has many offices and he has no identical offices,” Peskov said. He challenged Proekt’s use of flight records to contradict official statements about Mr Putin’s whereabouts. He said that the presidential planes are sometimes stationed outside Moscow, but he refused to discuss specific flights, noting that the head of the state’s movements are classified for security reasons.
Putin told Russian media that he had rejected plans to use the trick to protect his security. In February, he told the TASS news agency that, early in his tenure, he refused to use a double body to trick would-be killers.
This year, verifying Mr. Putin’s whereabouts has become more difficult as he has taken extraordinary precautions against the virus, even by the standards of other heads of state.
Journalists said that Russian journalists covering the president’s actions in the Kremlin pool have hardly seen him up close since March. Visitors are required to self-quarantine for up to two weeks before reaching a breathing space. And even then, before meeting Mr. Putin, they had to walk through a disinfectant tunnel – a structure similar to an airport metal detector that sprays a fine spray of disinfectant.
The president had several televised meetings via video link, with state television over the summer posting a special report on the site, indicating the microphones and screens available for the meetings – identifying them as located in the government residence outside Moscow, rather than on the beachfront.
One of the sites that reprinted the story, TVJournal, sparked hundreds of comments from readers contemplating pictures of Mr. Putin, who is suited and seriously managing state business, and sitting in similarly appearing offices that some have found signs of deception.