It’s nothing more than a funny coincidence that the Internet decided to kill Vladimir Putin only a day after his country announced a "year of friendship" with the reclusive regime of North Korea.
Following his weeklong absence from the public eye – since March 5 to be precise – “Putin Umer” (Putin is dead) started to trend on Russian social media websites while #PutinIsDead exploded across Twitter.
There are also reports of an official death notice that appeared briefly on the website of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, before being removed.
It ain’t over. pic.twitter.com/TZXbljM5lZ— Kevin Rothrock (@KevinRothrock) March 12, 2015
The Kremlin made matters more complicated when it released an image of Putin meeting with the regional governor of the Republic of Karelia, claiming it had been taken on March 11 when actually, according to local website Vesti Karelii, the said meeting happened on March 4. Moreover, RBC.ru reports Kremlin is apparently recycling photos from a number of earlier events.
There’s even a website that allows inquisitive users to ask, "Has Putin died?" which in turn generates automated reposes such as "No, he's alive" and "No, that's not why it stinks in Moscow."
Negating all the rumors, Putin’s office insists Putin is alive and kicking.
“There is no reason to worry ... everything is fine,” his press secretary Dmitry Peskov told local media, adding the Russian president’s handshake was still so strong it could “break your hand.”
However, there are still some strong indications that something’s wrong in Moscow because a number of official events and meetings have been canceled, including the Putin's visit to Kazakhstan. In addition, a Kazakh government spokesperson told Reuters: “It looks like he (Putin) has fallen ill.”
Putin was also scheduled to meet a delegation from Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia but that didn’t happen either.
"They didn't take off," Reuters quoted an official familiar with the arrangements. "They headed out in the morning but did not make it to the plane because they were told it was postponed."
While people are speculating the Russian leader’s absence could indicate a palace coup in Moscow, people cannot help but notice yet another similarity between Kim Jong Un and Putin – both of whom recently announced a year of friendship “to achieve a higher level in political, economic and cultural relations.”
Last year, after the North Korean dictator went missing for more than two months from public view, rumors of his death began to circulate in a similar fashion. However, Kim reemerged, healthy and smiling, and even got a new haircut.