Real or Double? A deception is uncovered | Part 1

A dubious signature clarifies the often discussed question

Real or Double? A deception is uncovered | Part 1

Read more: Part 1 by Markus Brandes | Part 2 by Marguerite Spycher |
Further signature references

Markus Brandes

A cheerful Putin without fear of contact: the Kremlin leader, who is otherwise extremely reserved toward the outside world, recently appeared remarkably relaxed and accessible. Doubts arose as to whether it was really the President of the Russian Federation who showed himself from this public-oriented side, or whether it was a substitute actor.
We examine the question on the basis of his signatures. The autograph specialist Markus Brandes offers a look into his collection, the graphologist Marguerite Spycher explains her observations in a second part and answers the question about the authenticity of the signature and thus about a Putin double.

During his short visit to a trade fair, the Kremlin boss kisses a girl and enjoys bathing in the crowd. Vladimir Putin then draws a caricature on the exhibitor's brand-new whiteboard and signs his work. Those present applaud, which the president acknowledges with a satisfied expression.


Fig. 1 Video still from 0:48 in the video on

This appearance is quite surprising because Vladimir Putin usually only meets with selected people. The need for distance and security was made abundantly clear at a meeting with Olaf Scholz in February 2022. They sat opposite each other at a six-meter-long table in the Kremlin - the picture caused a sensation. The need for distance could not be expressed more clearly. And so the question is obvious whether the affable gentleman in the video was actually the President of the Russian Federation, or whether it was a double.

Complex roles and the use of doubles

In dangerous film sequences, for example, the hero or heroine can be represented by a double, often called a stuntman, and can thus avoid risks. Queen Elizabeth II of England had a double, it is well known. There are also good reasons for political personalities to be partially represented by another person. An overflowing schedule, overlapping times, widely separated locations where presence is desired - it stands to reason that a double is quite practical in such cases. However, this is not always made public.

As President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin bears an enormous responsibility, and his schedule is undoubtedly tight. So it is plausible that he also occasionally sends doubles to take care of obligations and official appearances of lesser importance. However, the official side denies this.

Inconsistencies in the signature

Careful examination of the signature on the board purportedly written by Vladimir Putin reveals certain inconsistencies. Comparison with known signatures reveals discrepancies that cast doubt on its authenticity. The beginning of the signature, the slant, the design of the second part do not appear as on signatures that were certainly made by the Kremlin ruler. And thus the question also arises: is this autograph authentic or is it the work of a double?


Fig. 2 Caricature and signature from the video

References and comparison signatures

Marguerite Spycher will give the detailed answer in a second article, but before that, secured signatures must be examined. For reasons of space, only six signatures that are certainly authentic are presented here.


Fig. 3 Signature from 2023 on a wood sample




Abb. 4 Signature of 2021 at a trilateral meeting


Abb. 5 Unterschrift September 2015. Gruss an die Juden Russlands zu Rosh Hashanah


Abb. 6 Signiertes Karatebuch, September 2009.

(Quelle: Markus Brandes Autographs)

The signatures of Vladimir Putin (l.) and Gerhard Schröder in the Golden Book of the City of Schleswig. 2004


Putin's signature (right) on the 2003 agreement between Russia and Ukraine that defines the borders of the two countries. The agreement is deposited with the United Nations.

These signatures were made in a period of twenty years. Even for laymen it is easy to see that they are very similar among themselves. The beginning is made by circular movements, the second part of the signature runs in loops as they are to be written in the Latin script at "g".

The signature on the whiteboard

Abb. 3 Signature from the video

Compared to the reference signatures, the signature purportedly made by Vladimir Putin from the video shows considerable deviations.

In the second part, the graphologist Marguerite Spycher takes a closer look at the signatures.

Find here further references of Putins signature

About the author

For more than 30 years Markus Brandes has been passionately involved with autographs. He is a recognized handwriting expert and appraiser in the field of autographs, based in Switzerland.