Kremlin hit by major flu outbreak as Mad Vlad Putin set to isolate in bunker

A major flu outbreak has hit Kremlin officials amid speculation Vladimir Putin will imminently go into isolation in a bunker.

The revelation of the virus sweeping his presidential team comes as rumours swirl that the Russian leader is set to flee for a New Year hideaway amid health and security concerns.

Putin has already cancelled his annual set-piece press conference this month, a regular fixture during his years as president.

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An address to parliament in December is not ruled out, but the Kremlin's unusual and unprompted claim that his close officials have been hit by flu may be a prelude to Putin going into full-scale quarantine and aborting public appearances.

The Kremlin leader is notoriously obsessed with threats to his health — for example deploying his trademark long table to meet visitors in the Covid crisis.

There are also rumours he is suffering from serious conditions including cancer or Parkinson's, although those have not been confirmed.

At the same time, there are reports he is spooked by Ukraine’s ability to strike targets deep inside Russia, last week hitting two air bases hundreds of miles from the frontline.

Novaya Gazeta Europe news outlet reported that “many people in the Kremlin were down with flu”, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Meanwhile, Verstka media outlet have reported that Putin is likely to abandon his address to the upper house of parliament because he has nothing new to say on a war that is inflicting a huge toll on his country.

But other reports suggest he might still address senators before the New Year on December 21 or 27.

Putin’s latest problems come amid an upsurge in flu, swine flu and Covid just as Ukraine has hit targets deep inside Russia.

"The recent strike on military airfields deep in Russia has caused Putin serious concern,” said General SVR Telegram channel.

The outlet has already claimed that Putin and his close family — believed to include his former gymnast girlfriend Alina Kabaeva, 39 — are to spend the annual New Year vacation in a bunker east of the Ural Mountains.

Most Russians do not celebrate Christmas on December 25 but enjoy a succession of public holidays from New Year until after Orthodox Christmas Day on January 7.

Normally, Putin marks the holiday by the Black Sea and routinely addresses Russians with a pre-recorded New Year message, which is broadcast at midnight rolling across his country’s 11 time zones.

The Telegram channel — which claims to have intelligence from Kremlin insiders — said: “Attacks on military airfields in Russia have seriously alarmed Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Despite the president's order to strengthen security measures at strategic facilities, the already prohibitive security measures of Vladimir Putin himself have really intensified.

“Putin has begun to spend more time in bunker-type premises and the president and his loved ones [will celebrate] the New Year in a bunker located behind the Ural Mountains, instead of the residence in Sochi, as previously planned.”

Russia’s top doctor Anna Popova, head of health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, has been leading a coordinated campaign warning the people in the country to urgently vaccinate against flu.

Putin’s TV propagandists have also echoed a warning from TV doctor Alexander Myasnikov to take precautions against the flu.

Health minister Mikhail Murashko urged vaccinations and warned about the serious spread of swine flu, which is now present in 82 regions across Russia amid soaring covid deaths.

Demographer Alexei Rakish said there was a “phenomenal growth of a very powerful influenza epidemic”.

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