According to the magazine Paris Match, and various respected journalists, Putin’s bodyguards ‘collect his excrement on trips abroad and take it back to Russia with them.’ They are quite literally, carrying the can. At first, I wondered if they had taken the plea made to all tourists, leave only footprints behind, just a little too seriously.
Various theories are offered to explain this practice, and at the top of the list is paranoia. If Putin leaves this sort of material lying about, then it could be stolen by intelligence agencies. This would allow the West to verify, with bodily evidence, whether Vladimir Putin is extremely ill with a rare cancer that is progressing rapidly. That’s the rumour.
Frankly, if Putin leaves this sort of thing lying about, I think we can safely conclude that he isn’t house trained.
This kind of extreme spying, in the belief that information can be gathered from a stool, has been reported before. In 2016, a former Soviet agent claimed that Stalin had spied on Mao Zedong by, let’s say it, going through the motions. When Mao got wind of this (sorry – couldn’t resist) he made sure he had his own special port-a-loo installed for a ten-day Moscow visit in 1949.
To be clear, that was not done to see whether Mao Zedong was unwell. There was a belief at the time, that information about his personality could be gathered from the sample. It’s laughable, but it’s literally on a par in value with some other personality tests out in the market today.
But back to those bodyguards, who tend to see and hide a lot of things for a living. I am very sympathetic to the briefcase carrier – because the items are all kept in one case, we are told. I do hope they sell tough Ziplock packets in Russia, but I’ve shopped there, and I doubt it.
I am also picturing the spy who manages to capture the briefcase and becomes depressed (or nauseous) at the intelligence haul on cracking the locks.
What do we have, Agent Smith?
Nothing, Sir. Just a load of crap.
The question is whether bagging up your boss’s poo and carting it home is unusual.
Looking after your boss in this way, is certainly not new. The British Royals had a Keeper of the King’s Close Stool who attended to these things, and it’s not very long ago that chamber maids and servants performed similarly humble tasks for their employers – royal or otherwise. It’s the ‘saving’ and ‘carting about’ on modern aircraft that is unusual here.
So, the next time you think, ‘I’ve had a completely shit day at work’ or feel that your boss asked you to do something unpleasant, remember, it could be so much worse. And pity the bodyguard who returns from a trip with Putin, and faces loved ones asking, ‘did you bring me anything?’