President Vladimir Putin of Russia has reportedly commissioned hundreds of body doubles to act as decoys for himself and other top officials, in order to evade arrest, according to a Daily Star report.
The Russian leader has also allegedly assigned a “chief child catcher” to oversee the operation, as well as a team of lookalikes to be used as substitutes in public appearances.
The startling revelations come from a former member of the FSB (Federal Security Service), Russia’s main security agency. The ex-agent claims that the FSB has been working on the project for years, and that the mission is currently administered by a “chief child catcher.”
According to the source, the operation has been designed to make it difficult to arrest or detain key figures in the Russian government. The “child catcher” recruits and trains the body doubles, and also is responsible for maintaining their cover stories.
The body doubles, who are reportedly selected based on their physical resemblance to the individuals they are replacing, are taught to act, speak, and even think like their counterparts. They are also reportedly given detailed information about the person they are impersonating, including addresses, phone numbers, and other personal details.
The lookalikes are said to be paid well for their services, and are required to keep their involvement in the operation a secret.
The former FSB agent claims that the body double system is a well-crafted plan to help Putin and other Russian officials elude capture and prosecution. The ruse is said to be so effective that the real person and their body double have even been seen together in public on more than one occasion.
The use of body doubles by President Putin and other Russian officials has been seen as a sign of the country’s increasingly authoritarian rule. While such tactics may be effective at keeping the officials safe from arrest, they have also been seen as an extreme measure that threatens to undermine the rule of law in Russia.