We're all having to dig deep for any information relating to Vladimir Putin.
Given the importance of Russia in the events of Ezekiel 38-39 and during the Tribulation, any potential changes in Russian leadership is of great importance.
The rumors are wide-ranging from reasonable to the absurd. It is a mystery however, and one has to wonder why he hasn't come out to dispel the rumors.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been seen in public since March 5, and the world is waiting to see if the 62-year-old casually returns or if his absence signals something more serious.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin prepares to celebrate the anniversary of annexing Crimea from Ukraine, Putin has a Monday meeting with the president of Kyrgyzstan in St. Petersburg, and independent Moscow outlet TV Rain says Putin is recovering from the flu.
So perhaps this is just Putin being Putin, keeping the world off balance, or he came down with something and decided to wait it out in the background.
"Putin is nothing if not capricious. He enjoys keeping people waiting and guessing, it's part of a display of the trappings of power," Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, noted to Business Insider on Friday.
"Yes, The Kremlin is by no means a stranger to maskirovka, strategic deception, but I see no reason to think this was anything of the sort."
Galeotti notes that "the longer before we get a real, credible evidence of Putin’s health ... then the more the speculation will rage, and the more likely it is that the tsar is, if not dead, somehow seriously impaired."
Putin has not been out of the Kremlin spotlight for more than a day since the early 2000s, when he dropped off the grid after a national tragedy (the sinking of the submarine Kursk in 2000) and in 2002 when terrorists took over a Moscow theater and more than 100 civilians died.
So his lengthy absence is unprecedented in that it has no obvious cause.
Given all of Putin's successful ploys on the world stage over the last couple of years, the first anniversary of Crimea on Monday would be a fitting time for Putin to pop back up as if nothing happened.
But since the Russian president gains little by staying out of the spotlight for so long during tumultuous times, and the Kremlin has looked clumsy in his absense, there's clearly more happening behind Putin's vanishing act than the common cold — even if not by Putin's choice.
I'm not convinced that a man who is so aware of the importance of his person and his presence would want to sustain such a long absence when rumors are rampant," Hannah Thoburn, a Eurasia analyst with the Foreign Policy Initiative, told Business Insider in an email. "It exposes the inherent fragility of his system, but then again, Russians are used to such systems."
Since Vladimir Putin vanished from public view 10 days ago, the speculation surrounding the Russian president has been nothing if not dramatic. One rumour claimed he had died. Another wondered if some cosmetic surgery had gone wrong. Yet another placed him in Switzerland for the birth of a secret lovechild.
The reality – two conflicting reports suggested on Sunday – may be rather less sensational and not at all at one with Putin’s virile image: while one claimed he had gone down with the flu, another suggested he had been suffering from back trouble.
Quoting unnamed sources, the Russian independent news channel TV Rain said the Russian leader, 62, had succumbed to flu and retreated to his secluded lakeside residence in Valdai, midway between Moscow and St Petersburg. In what would be his first high-profile event since 5 March, Putin is scheduled to speak with the president of the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in St Petersburg on Monday.
In Austria, meanwhile, the Kurier newspaper claimed Putin had been treated in Moscow for back problems by an unnamed Viennese orthopaedic doctor. It did not identify the source of the claims.
On Sunday Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Putin’s whereabouts or health, saying only “the topic is closed”. He added that on Sunday night Putin would watch a new state television documentary about the annexation of Crimea. The trailer has revealed that in the film Putin says plans to take Crimea were launched after the ousting of the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and were not just a response to a local referendum, as the Kremlin has claimed in the past.
Vladimir Putin Has Been 'Neutralized' By A Stealthy Coup As Rumors About His Health And Well-Being Continue To Flourish