Vladimir Putin habitually uses body doubles, according to a new detailed Japanese investigation based on Artificial Intelligence analysis. The Kremlin dictator has just completed a high-profile trip to China seeking to form an alliance against the West.
But new research based on facial recognition, voice comparison, and body movements, suggests there may in fact be several different Putins.
It has been rumoured for decades that the Russian leader deploys doppelgängers, who have aged with the 71-year-old president.
Claims of Putin using stand-ins or body doubles have been made by both Russian sources and the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence Lt-Gen Kyrylo Budanov – but have been previously denied by the Kremlin.
However, the new investigation by Japanese TV network TBS concluded the suggestions are more than just myth. It found that the real Putin hosted this year’s annual Red Square Victory Day parade on 9 May.
But sophisticated facial recognition technology suggested that the Putin who inspected the Crimean Bridge 10months ago was only a 53 per cent match with the Putin in Red Square.
“Experts on face recognition would refer to this as ‘not matching’ in most cases, which leads us to the assumption this can be a double,” the investigation found.
Another Putin appearance – at the war front in occupied Mariupol back in March – showed only a 40 per cent facial recognition likeness with the Putin seen on Red Square, according to the analysis.
In addition, the investigation concluded thay there was only an 18 per cent facial recognition likeness between the Putin on the Crimean Bridge and the Putin in Mariupol.
“AI facial recognition experts’ analysis is clearly displaying the high probability of at least two body doubles,” the report found.
The broadcast also conducted voice analysis at Japan’s Institute of Audio Communication Laboratory, which works closely with police on criminal investigations.
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This analysis for voice biometrics concentrated on the word ‘spasibo’ – or ‘thank you’ – uttered by ‘Putin’ on different occasions.
The Putin who addressed the Eurasian Economic Union Forum held in May 2023 – assumed to be the real dictator – was found to be different to three other ‘Putin’ appearances. The TV analysis concluded that Putin’s voice was different at the forum to other Putin examples at different appearances.
“Other than the difference in pronouncing the sound ’s’, there is a remarkable gap in pronouncing ‘pa’ and ‘si consecutively,” said investigation found.
One of the experts involved in the analysis, Mutsutoshi Muraoka, said: “There is a difference in the recording conditions, as well as the utterance as it is, but still it is extremely rare to have such strong differences. We have to say at this point that the possibility of these two voices belonging to different people is high.”
Body movement analysis using the latest AI techniques also led to the conclusion that Putin uses doubles, the Japanese analysis suggested.
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Analysis was made of previous Putin meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jinping [not this week’s meeting in Beijing] and his talks with Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko – when there was a high match of these being the same Putin: 94 per cent.
The investigation found: “The Putin who appeared at the Main Naval Parade had 86 per cent matching. It surely looks high enough, but for the AI system being used, these numbers show the possibility of a different person.”
And at Mariupol, the Putin walk only showed a 75 per cent match compared to the walk with Xi, indicating this was not the same person.
“The judgement was made by looking at the body posture during the walking,” the report found. This indicates “two different people”.
The investigation concluded: “Summing up, there is a body double, and there is a high possibility of another separate body double.”
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