Too good to check: Putin doddering at Easter service?

I’d love to believe that this shows Vladimir Putin on his last legs, but … I dunno. Who doesn’t fidget during an Easter service? Especially those who happen to be in church after ordering all sorts of atrocities while attempting to annihilate a neighbor. It’s a wonder that Putin wasn’t doing Crazy Ivans attempting to dodge lightning strikes.

Of course, all of that is entirely copacetic in Patriarch Kirill’s Russian Orthodox Church, but still

Fresh theories surrounding Vladimir Putin’s health are circulating after a recent appearance by the Russian president showed him biting his lips, fidgeting and appearing unsteady.

Mr Putin’s appearance at a church service has now sparked rumours that he is unwell after he seemed unable to stand still during the service.

The New York Post extended its remarks on the Sky News Australia report:

The frail-looking strongman is seen swaying during the Mass conducted by the Russian Orthodox Church, which has strongly backed its leader’s so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Putin, 69 — dressed in a dark blue suit, a white shirt and dark purple tie — holds a red candle as he stands in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral alongside Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

The warmongering president shifts uncomfortably, sticks out his tongue and bites his lips as Patriarch Kirill announces that “Christ has risen” – joining other members of the congregation with the reply, “Truly he is risen.” …

Last week, he was seen looking bloated and awkwardly gripping a table for support in a clip released by the Kremlin from a meeting with his defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, to discuss the fate of the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

Allahpundit wrote about the Putin-Shoigu clip at more length, and it did seem as though Putin was having some physical difficulties. I hadn’t noticed it on the first viewing — I found Shoigu’s presence to be the most surprising part of that clip — but another couple of views made it clear that something was off. Whether that was a one-time issue or signs of advancing decrepitude remains to be seen, but I wrote about rumors that Putin had some serious health issues stretching back to 2020, if not before.

This video, however, looks rather unremarkable to me. It looks more like a man who’s not comfortable standing in one position for any significant length of time, but that could have hundreds of explanations, especially for someone pushing 70. Could it be Parkinson’s? Perhaps, but at best the signs here are more subtle than they were in that clip with Shoigu. This could just as easily have been some back pain, or sheer boredom. I rather doubt that a man who’s ordering the wholesale destruction of cities and mass murder of civilians cares to spend too much time pondering the eschatological mysteries of Christian faith, especially at Easter.

In fact, one has to wonder about Kirill’s state of mind too, not to mention his state of soul. Pope Francis wonders enough about that to send Kirill an Easter message that can best be translated as what are you thinking:

In an Easter message to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Pope Francis expressed hope that the Holy Spirit would “make us true peacemakers, especially for war-torn Ukraine.”

In a letter published on April 24 on the Moscow Patriarchate’s website, the Pope wrote: “May the Holy Spirit transform our hearts and make us true peacemakers, especially for war-torn Ukraine, so that the great Easter passage from death to new life in Christ may become a reality for the Ukrainian people, who long for a new dawn that will end the darkness of war.”

The Vatican press office took pains to note that Francis sent that same greeting to other Eastern churches celebrating Easter yesterday rather than the Western date of April 17:

Vatican News, the online news portal of the Holy See, said that the Easter greeting was sent not only to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia but also to the heads of other Eastern Churches that celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar.

Yes, but that may make the prodding even more pointed. Just the mention of the “Ukrainian people” is a clear rebuke to Kirill’s public endorsement of Putin’s claim that the Ukrainian ethnicity doesn’t exist.  The pontiff has come under considerable pressure internally to take a more forceful position regarding Kirill’s endorsement of Putin’s war, as the National Catholic Register notes:

Catholic bishops across Europe have appealed to Kirill — who is considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin — to speak out against the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, launched on Feb. 24.

Among those who have called on the patriarch to intervene are Poland’s Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Germany’s Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Luxembourg’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, and the Irish bishops.

Yet Kirill made it clear yesterday by including Putin in the Easter celebration that he has no plans to rebuke his patron or argue for peace. Putin’s not the only one in this clip that should worry about lightning strikes.