'Are you real?' Putin swears he doesn't have a body double

Sure, Jan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he was offered a body double to make appearances in public for security reasons, but that he declined the offer, and has never used one, which totally sounds like something he'd say anyway if he were a body double and my brain hurts now.

Putin, 67, has dominated Russian politics for more than two decades, and Russian conspiracy theories.

"One of the more elaborate theories compares photographs of Putin over the years, claiming to have identified a number of different individuals posing as him," reports the Reuters team, in Moscow:

But during an interview with TASS news agency aired on Thursday, Putin was shown a list of popular Internet searches purportedly associated with his name, one of which was entitled "Putin body double evidence".

Asked "Are you real?" by the interviewer, Putin replied "Yes" before going on to deny that he uses a lookalike for public appearances for his own safety.

But he said he had been offered the opportunity.

"I declined these body doubles. This (the offer) was during the most difficult periods of the fight against terrorism," Putin said, adding that he was referring to the beginning of the 2000s.

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'Are you real?' Putin quashes rumors he uses a body double