A former US National Security Council official has described an odd dinner encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin — who smelled “almost like he had stepped out of some special preparatory bath.”
Fiona Hill, who served as an adviser on Russia under then-President Donald Trump, dished on the strongman during a recent sit-down with the BBC Sounds’ “Desert Island Discs” show.
“Now, this sounds really bizarre, but I could smell that he was freshly laundered,” she said. “He wasn’t wearing cologne, but it was almost like he had stepped out of some special preparatory bath or something, into the moment.
“He was just all in command of himself projecting this image, I thought, ‘Wow, look at this!’” Hill recalled.
“All of this is staged, every little element of this is staged — this is a performance.”
Hill also noted the Kremlin leader’s tightly controlled appearance.
“I took in the suits, one of the finely tailored suits, the way that the little vein pulses on the left-hand side of his face,” she told host Lauren Laverne.
“I noticed right away that, like the rest of us, he really could have done with glasses because he had these giant cards. I could read them all, cards telling him who was who and what he should say and things like this.”
The former national security official also recalled how the brutal Russian leader didn’t eat or drink.
“I noticed he didn’t eat or drink anything. I watched the watch on his wrist — very expensive,” she said, adding that Putin was “not much of a conversationalist” and barely even looked at her during the meal.
It’s unclear when exactly the dinner took place although Hill told “Desert Island Discs” it happened while she was working as a national intelligence officer, which she did from 2006 to 2009 as an analyst of Russia and Eurasia.
Hill’s observations come amid a spate of reports about Putin’s health.
Anti-Kremlin Telegram account “General SVR” claimed he recently underwent surgery to remove fluid from his abdomen.
It also claims that Putin’s surgery and subsequent recovery was covered up using “deepfake” technology to simulate his presence in videos of a scheduled meeting of Russia’s security council.
The outlet’s claims have not been verified.
Last week, the mysterious channel also claimed that Putin had prerecorded footage in an attempt to cover up future surgeries and was planning on using body doubles if need be.
In April, Russian investigative outlet The Project reported that the leader has been regularly visited by an oncologist and speculated that he was suffering from thyroid cancer.
The report also included a variety of other ailments, from hockey injuries to back pain from an equestrian incident.
According to the report, Putin is said to bathe in blood extracted from deer antlers, which are hacked off while they are growing and still full of fresh blood. The sickening “antler baths” are an alternative therapy in the Altai region of Russia.
Speculation about Putin’s health has continued as he’s been videotaped fidgeting, keeping his distance from his subordinates, or otherwise acting strangely in public.