Has Putin had plastic surgery?

With his likely return to the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin looks set now to stay in power until he is 71 – but he probably won’t look it.

The Russian leader has been the subject of intense speculation in Moscow on how he keeps looking so fresh. Botox? Face lift? Fillers?

The rumours first emerged last October, when Putin showed up to a meeting in Kiev sporting a massive blue-and-yellow bruise around his eye. Botox, concluded Russia‘s blogosphere. Putin’s spokesman was forced to issue denials. “It’s probably just how the light fell. The prime minister is tired.”

Since then, Putin’s face has contorted and smoothed out so much that it’s at times unrecognisable. Talking to teens at the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth group’s summer camp this year, he was at pains to smile. All wrinkles had disappeared. The blogosphere was at it again – had Putin out- Berlusconi-ed Berlusconi?

Putin and the Italian premier are close friends. It didn’t seem like much of a stretch to many that they would share plastic-surgery tips and contacts.

As the reality of Putin’s decision that he would return to the Kremlin next year sank in, one joke was doing the rounds: “In response to the charge that there are no new faces in Russian politics, Vladimir Putin got plastic surgery.”

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