This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he was offered body doubles for his personal safety during Russia’s second war against Chechen separatists in the early 2000s.
Questions about Putin’s possible body doubles were asked in the past, but he never answered directly.
In an interview with TASS news agency, a portion of which was published on February 27, Putin said he was offered the option, but declined.
“I refused to have doubles. It was during the most difficult time of the fight against terrorism,” Putin said, without giving any other details.
The First Chechen War that lasted from 1994-1996 ended inconclusively and claimed at least 30,000 civilian deaths.
Russia managed to retake control of the rebellious region only after the Second Chechen War (1999-2009) that Moscow officially called a counterterrorism operation.
Putin, first as acting president then as elected president, visited Russian troops in Chechnya several times.
A former KGB officer and chief of Russia’s Federal Security Service, the KGB successor, Putin has ruled Russia as president or prime minister for more than 20 years.