Putin walks with KGB-trained 'gunslinger's gait': study

It is a striking moment: ceremonial guards swinging open the Kremlin's golden doors to reveal Russian President Vladimir Putin striding down the red carpet for his 2012 inauguration.

See Full Article

But in the eyes of some, what truly makes the moment remarkable is not the lavishness of the ceremony, or the fact that it is Putin's third presidential term, but the way Putin's right arm lacks the swagger of the rest of his body, resting almost rigidly at his side.

Putin's prominent gait even led to speculation in a 2005 profile in The Atlantic that he had potentially suffered a stroke.

However, a new study may have cracked the mystery surrounding the world's most famous walking stride.

In the paper, neurologist and movement disorder enthusiast Bastiaan Bloem says that Putin, as well as several high-ranking Russian officials, have a "gunslinger's gait" that may have been "triggered by KGB or other forms of weaponry training."

After watching numerous YouTube videos of the Russian president, Bloem was struck by what he classified as a "consistently reduced right-sided arm swing."

Initially, the Dutch professor, who is an expert in Parkinson's disease, considered Putin's reduced arm swing to be an indication of an early phase of the nervous system disorder.

But in a search for other possible explanations, Bloem and his team came across a KGB training manual, which instructed operatives to restrict their body's movement to one side.

"When moving, it is absolutely necessary to keep your weapon against the chest, or in the right hand," says a quote from the manual in the study's press release.

"Moving forward should be done with one side, usually the left, turned somewhat in the direction of the movement."

After his graduation from university in 1975, Putin underwent a year of training with the KGB in Okta, Leningrad. In total, he spent 16 years serving with the security agency.

Bloem and his team pursued the theory further, and managed to identify several other high-ranking Russian officials who walk with the gunslinger's gait, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, former ministers of defence Anatoly Serdyukov and Sergei Ivanov, as well as Col. Gen. Anatoly Sidorov.

Ivanov spent 15 years in the KGB, where he became friends with Putin.

The researchers say that the more "plausible explanation," rather than interpreting the pattern as pathological, is that it is a habit that was picked up during weapons training, such as those provided by the KGB.

"We propose that this new gait pattern, which we term 'gunslinger's gait,' may result from a behavioural adaption, possibly triggered by the KGB or other forms of weaponry training, where trainees are taught to keep their right hand close to the chest will walking, allowing them to quickly draw a gun when faced with a foe," says the study.

The authors also found examples of "reduced arm swings" depicted in Wild West movies.

The findings were published in the medical journal BMJ on Monday.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • New Mexico bus crash leaves 3 dead, 22 injured

    World News CBC News
    Authorities say a crash involving a passenger bus and three other vehicles on a highway in New Mexico has killed three people and injured 22 others, three of them critically. Three people died in the wreck early Sunday, but it's unclear if they were bus passengers or in a semitruck, pickup truck or car also involved in the collision. Source
  • Eritrean, Ethiopian leaders call new peace example to Africa

    World News CTV News
    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Official rivals just weeks ago, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea embraced warmly to the roar of a crowd of thousands Sunday at a concert celebrating the end of a long state of war. Source
  • Rescue team frees 1st entangled whale since death of volunteer Joe Howlett

    Canada News CBC News
    Campobello Whale Rescue Team freed a young entangled whale Saturday, its first emergency response on the water since fellow rescuer Joe Howlett's death last year. Members of the organization, which is made up of fishermen, a biologist and other volunteers, rescued a baby humpback whale just off the coast of Brier Island, N.S. Source
  • Hamilton police search for man following possible drowning in Lake Ontario

    Canada News CTV News
    Hamilton police are investigating a possible drowning after a man went swimming and didn't resurface from the waters of Lake Ontario. Police say the man's friends called emergency services at about 6 a.m. on Sunday. Source
  • Crews battling rash of forest fires in northern Ontario, B.C.

    Canada News CTV News
    An intense heat wave, windy conditions and a number of lightning-filled thunderstorms have led to the outbreak of forest fires in northern Ontario and parts of British Columbia, with officials warning that there could be more to come. Source
  • Indian Village at Calgary Stampede will change name to Elbow River Camp

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - The Calgary Stampede says its annual display of Indigenous culture that goes back more than 100 years will no longer be called "Indian Village." On Sunday, the final day of this year's stampede, officials announced the village of more than two dozen teepees will be renamed Elbow River Camp. Source
  • Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW -- Russian protest group and Pussy Riot has claimed responsibility for four people who ran onto the field and disrupted the World Cup final. The punk band says in a statement posted on their Twitter feed Sunday that the disruption was a protest. Source
  • Russian punk band Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

    World News CBC News
    Russian protest group Pussy Riot has claimed responsibility for four people who ran onto the field and disrupted the World Cup final in Moscow. The punk band says in a statement posted on their Twitter feed Sunday that the disruption was a protest. Source
  • France defeats Croatia in World Cup final

    World News CBC News
    With Vladimir Putin watching from the stands, France won its second World Cup title in a match that was interrupted by an on-field protest during the second half that Russian punk band Pussy Riot later took credit for. Source
  • U.S. trade, immigration and biofuel policies hit farmers hard

    World News CTV News
    DES MOINES, Iowa -- Even before the spectre of a trade war with China and other countries threatened to cost them billions of dollars, American farmers were feeling the squeeze from fluctuating crop prices and other factors that have halved their overall income in recent years. Source