Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted he was offered the chance to use a body double for security purposes, but rejected the idea.
He said the plan was tabled in the early 2000s, when Russia was fighting a war against separatists in Chechnya.
A 67-year-old former KGB agent, Mr Putin made several trips to the region during the conflict.
For years he has been the subject of conspiracy theories online, including that he uses lookalikes for security.
But Mr Putin, who has been in power since 2000, said he “declined these body doubles” on every occasion he was offered them.
- Chechnya profile – a timeline
- Russian government resigns as Putin plans future
- What Putin’s plans mean for Russia
The question was brought up by Andrei Vandenko, a journalist who interviewed Mr Putin for Russia’s Tass news agency.
Mr Vandenko said “Putin’s double” and “Putin body double evidence” were among the most popular internet searches associated with the Russian president’s name.
The interviewer asked Mr Putin: “Are you real?”