“Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown,” William Shakespeare wrote in “Henry IV, Part Two.”
That famous line applies doubly to a man like Russian President Vladimir Putin, who not only has spent almost two decades ruling his nation but whose brutal tactics have made him a prime target for his enemies — and now he must go to great lengths to protect himself.
With Russian forces on the march in Ukraine, the world’s attention once again has turned to Putin’s paranoid existence that forces him to shun technology, employ food testers and keep his distance from people as he muddles through his monotonous, lonely existence.
First cataloged by Ben Judah at Newsweek in 2014 after years of interviews with people in high places to prepare for his book “Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell in and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin,” a day-in-the-life glimpse of the isolated authoritarian almost makes one feel sorry for Putin. Almost.
The former KGB operative begins his day after noon with a simple breakfast of farm-fresh food, usually an omelet and fruit, always including cottage cheese.
Food is never to be eaten when offered by foreign hosts, and there has long been talk that Putin employs full-time food testers to make sure his meals aren’t poisoned, according to Daily Beast contributing editor Craig Copetas on “Inside Edition.”
Putin then exercises for hours before going about his day through various meetings that are often meaningless and empty shows of admiration, and even those have become physically distanced events devoid of human contact.
Moreover, Putin’s health has become the source of speculation because of bizarre behaviors like using ridiculously long tables to keep the Russian president a room’s length away from whoever he’s meeting with at the time.
That practice has become yet another source to draw a contrast between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is on the ground with his men while Putin sends missives from afar.
“President Zelensky visits wounded soldiers in the hospital. Putin remains isolated, detached, and removed sitting at his long table, like a pariah should,” NBC Universal’s Mike Sington tweeted last week, including a photo of Putin behind the long table.
President Zelensky visits wounded soldiers in the hospital. Putin remains isolated, detached, and removed sitting at his long table, like a pariah should. pic.twitter.com/yip7CdrYSB
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) March 14, 2022
The 69-year-old Putin, who is divorced, is said to be hiding his girlfriend, 38-year-old former gymnast Alina Kabaeva, far away in Switzerland, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Though many world leaders have tight security because of apparent threats, Putin seems particularly paranoid, perhaps because he can sense that many are looking to overthrow him, especially as Russia is experiencing heavy casualties because of his aggression in Ukraine.
However, Putin’s history is full of notable people in his orbit who have met tragic ends, including Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned to death with the rare radioactive isotope polonium in 2006.
He was just one of at least 10 high-profile individuals, including journalists and politicians, who have crossed the Kremlin and turned up dead, according to The Washington Post.
The Pentagon also has suspected Russia is behind directed energy attacks on American diplomats that have left them with a constellation of mysterious neurological symptoms dubbed “Havana syndrome” because many cases have originated in Cuba.
Although it’s tragic to think of a man surrounded by people but painfully alone and scared to die, it seems fitting for Putin since this is the hell he has created for himself with his brutality.
However, what he’s experiencing now is nothing — sooner or later, that heavy head of his will lay down for the last time and he likely will find out what hell really is.
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