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

  • Paris protesters decry police brutality following shooting death of Chinese man

    World News CBC News
    Dozens of Chinese Parisians gathered in front of a police station in northern Paris on Tuesday to protest against police brutality. On Sunday evening, Liu Shaoyo, a 54-year-old father of Chinese descent, was fatally shot by police at his house, in the presence of his teenage children. Source
  • Canada Revenue Agency declares man dead - but he's not

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, N.B - A 64-year-old New Brunswick man says he is very much alive, despite being declared dead by the Canada Revenue Agency. Peter Harwerth of Campobello Island said he was stunned to receive a letter from the agency a few days ago that was addressed to the “estate of the late Peter Harwerth. Source
  • Family files lawsuit in Canadian filmmaker's Keys dive death

    Canada News CTV News
    MIAMI - The family of a Canadian filmmaker and conservationist who died during a shark filming excursion in the Florida Keys has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in the death of 37-year-old Rob Stewart blames negligence on the companies and individuals who organized the January dive. Source
  • Purolator stops taking shipments ahead of strike deadline

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO - Purolator has stopped accepting shipments ahead of a strike deadline Wednesday issued by the union representing some of the courier’s employees. Teamsters Canada issued the 72-hour strike notice Sunday after the majority of its more than 8,000 members who work for Purolator voted to reject the company’s final offer. Source
  • Canadian naval vessel part of massive international drug bust

    Canada News CBC News
    The U.S. Coast Guard says a Canadian ship was involved in a massive cocaine bust in international waters over a 26-day period. Approximately 14.5 tonnes of cocaine were seized in 17 separate drug boat interceptions. Source
  • Hong Kong escalator suddenly reverses direction, increases speed and leaves riders in pile at the bottom

    World News Toronto Sun
    A four-story escalator packed with shoppers at a Hong Kong mall suddenly stopped and reversed direction at high speed Saturday, injuring at least 18 people who fell and rolled down the hard steel, some landing in a heap at the bottom. Source
  • Most patients get priority surgeries within target wait times: Report

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — Three out of four Canadians received a hip or knee replacement, cataract surgery, hip fracture repair or cancer radiation therapy within the recommended wait times for those priority procedures, although there was often wide variation from one province to another, researchers say. Source
  • 'Big Maple Leaf' gold coin worth millions was stolen with wheelbarrow: police

    World News CTV News
    Berlin police say suspects used a wheelbarrow to make off with a 100-kilogram gold coin worth millions. Police said Tuesday at least two burglars broke into the Bode Museum early Monday morning using a ladder to climb up to a window from elevated railway tracks running alongside the building. Source
  • Paris clashes over police killing of Chinese man; 3 injured

    World News CTV News
    PARIS -- Violent clashes in Paris between baton-wielding police and protesters outraged at the police killing of a Chinese man in his home injured three police officers and led to the arrest of 35 protesters, authorities said Tuesday. Source
  • Transgender Florida man Oneal Morris sentenced to 10 years for lethal butt injections

    World News Toronto Sun
    A transgender man accused of manslaughter after his “toxic tush” injections killed a patient in 2012 has been sentenced to 10 years in a Florida prison. Oneal Morris, 36, received his sentence Monday in a Miami-Dade County court after pleading no contest to manslaughter and practising medicine without a license. Source