Does Vladimir Putin Use Food Tasters To Avoid Poisoning?

When Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in 2006, it took nearly a month before he died. Obviously, state leaders like Putin aren’t willing to wait weeks to see if they’ve been served radioactive tea. In 2014, Independent reported on a London meeting of the elite Club des Chefs des Chefs, where details leaked about the Russian president’s “full-time food taster.” While these “Chefs des Chefs” all shared the privilege of preparing food for leaders the world over, Putin’s personal chef was not included among them — because his cook is part of his security detail. The logic for Putin’s choice is the same for U.S. presidents (who also meticulously source food for diplomatic dinners): If guards are making the food, theoretically it must be safe to eat.

The Russian president besieging Ukraine has been known to ramp up security around his meals after political controversies break. In 2018 (per Mirror), Putin reportedly hired “even more” taste testers after accusations that he poisoned double agent Segei Skripal and his daughter in Britain. Skripal, a spy for the Russians who flipped to work for U.K. intelligence, was exposed to a deadly nerve agent in a Salisbury park (per Independent), leading detectives to suspect that the attack was a deliberate and targeted assassination attempt. Not only were Skripal and his daughter afflicted, but passersby were hit, too.

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