Rumours that Russian President Vladimir Putin suffers from “small man syndrome” increased this week, as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown shared a very personal story about the despot.
Back in February, when Russia first invaded Ukraine, Conservative MP Julian Lewis claimed, during a question in the House of Commons, that Putin was “firmly in the grip of small man syndrome”.
He also said that Putin had a “Napoleon complex”.
Lewis said that this could be the reason why Putin ordered his troops to take to the streets of Ukraine.
And now former Labour leader Brown, who served as the UK's Chancellor from 1997 to 2007 under then-PM Tony Blair, has shed some light on the realities of this rumour.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph's Celia Walden, he recalled a meeting between the pair in 2006.
He said: “I first met Putin in 2006 at the Kremlin, when I was still Chancellor.
“And I was put in a very low seat so that I was looking up at him.
“He’s certainly a relatively small man, and he wears these stacked heels.
“Anyway, that day he took out these index cards, and proceeded to read out all this information he had about me, as though he wanted to prove that he knew more about me than I knew about myself.
“So when people say that Putin’s changed and is only now threatening, I can tell you that he was threatening me even then.”
Putin's height isn't the only talking point when it comes to the despotic leader.
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His health has been a major talking point, too.
Last month, a source told the Daily Star Sunday that Putin’s recent media appearances had very probably been pre-recorded.
A body double may also have been used at public events, like the Moscow Victory Day Parade earlier this month.
One intelligence source said: “Putin is very ill and when he dies his death will be kept secret for weeks, if not months.
“There is also the possibility that he is already dead. It’s impossible to know. It is believed that Putin has employed body doubles in the past when he has been unwell and the Kremlin could be doing so now.
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“Putin is the head of a small group of senior officials who are completely loyal to him.
“The real fear (for his cronies) is that once his death is announced there could be a Kremlin coup and Russian generals will want to withdraw from Ukraine.
“Putin’s death will leave them powerless and vulnerable so they have a vested interest in saying that Putin is alive – when the reverse could be true.”
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