A man who made bank being a dead-ringer for Vladimir Putin claims he fears for his life after the Russian president ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Slawek Sobola, 53, has spent the past eight years professionally impersonating 69-year-old Putin — and has traveled to the US, the UK and Hong Kong for special gigs.
Soloba — who hails from the city of Wroclaw in southwestern Poland — told the Daily Star he has earned “good money” parodying the president, but is now concerned that locals will turn on him.
“Before the war I wasn’t afraid for my safety on the street, but now … I’m a little afraid because in Wroclaw there’s a lot of people from Ukraine who work and live here,” the infamous celebrity lookalike told the outlet.
“There have been many times that these people told me I look like Putin, and now because of the war I’m a little afraid that these people could be angry or aggressive when they see me,” he further explained.
Sobola has traveled around the world for paid gigs imitating Russia’s reviled president. mirrorimages.coPutin has been the aggressor in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine, and has been conceived as a villainous figure across much of the world.
Soloba says he used to “respect” Putin, but his opinion has changed since the war in Ukraine began last week.
He has vowed to no longer impersonate Putin, saying he does not want to profit from the conflict.
While Sobola says he used to “respect” Putin, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made him reassess his opinion. mirrorimages.coSobola is seen in an old social media photo impersonating Putin during a paid trip to London.mirrorimages.co“This war is nothing good and I do not think about earning money from it,” he said. “I had a lot of respect for him (Putin) but now I think that this man did a lot of harm and I do not know today how I will play his role in the future. This situation with the war, I am standing with Ukraine. I think that they have to fight.”
Sobola says he does not need the money impersonating Putin, clarifying that it has been always been a lucrative side hustle and not his primary form of income.
Meanwhile, Sobola’s wife is relieved he has now stopped the Putin parodies, admitting they often made her “uncomfortable.”
The real Putin ordered the full-scale invasion of the Ukraine last week. He is pictured above.MAXIM ZMEYEV“For me sometimes it’s funny when we do this job and we meet other lookalikes and have fu, ” she stated. “But sometimes it’s uncomfortable because when we are with family and we walk on holiday, on the beach or in the restaurant, bar, people touch him and say: ‘Hey, hey you look like Putin, can I get a picture with you?’”
Now, that discomfort has turned to fear as Russia continues its assault on Ukraine.
When asked what he would say to Putin should he meet his dopplegänger face-to-face, Sobola said: “I would ask him to look at me and think how you can have the same face but perceive the world differently.”