Vladimir Putin has put to rest rumours he uses body doubles for security, admitting that he has in fact been offered such measures but rejected them.
The Russian president said he dismissed an offer to use a lookalike for personal protection during a conflict in Chechnya.
Mr Putin told Russia’s Tass news agency that the plan dated back to the early 2000s, during “the most difficult moment of fighting terrorism”.
In the interview, a broadcaster noted the long-running conspiracy that Mr Putin uses an actor for protection, saying keywords such as “Putin’s double” were among some of the most popular internet searches relating to the president.
He asked: “Are you real?”
The 67-year-old assured the interviewer that he was in fact who he said he was, and that he “declined these body doubles” each time they were offered.
One of these occasions was apparently after a near-miss in 1999, when the former KBG agent was fighting a war against separatists in Chechnya.
He has previously said a helicopter he was using in Chechnya had come under fire.
But he did not say why he rejected the offer for a lookalike.
In the interview, he also reiterated that he does not own a personal mobile phone, saying he feels “more comfortable” relying on protected communication.