2015; 351 doi: (Published 14 December 2015) point out this as: 2015;351:h6141


Objective To postulate a new possible reason of a unilaterally reduced arm swing in addition to the recognized medical problems such as shoulder pathology, Erb’s palsy, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease.

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Methods Analysis that YouTube videos illustrating the gait of very ranked Russian officials.

Results We uncovered a similar walking pattern in chairman Vladimir Putin, element Minister Dmitry Medvedev and three other very ranked Russian officials, every presenting v a consistently diminished right eight swing in the lack of other overt neurological abnormalities.

Conclusions We propose the this brand-new gait pattern, which us term “gunslinger’s gait,” may an outcome from a behavioral adaptation, probably triggered by KGB or other develops of tools training wherein trainees room taught to save their ideal hand close to the chest when walking, allowing them come quickly draw a gun when confronted with a foe. This have to be had in the differential diagnosis of a unilaterally decreased arm swing.


If friend ever uncover yourself in a neurology conference and notice a team of individuals scrutinising the method people walk, they are most likely to be motion disorder enthusiasts. Their passion to display screen for abnormal walking trends may prolong to evaluating YouTube footage, wherein remarkable discoveries can it is in made.1 we were win to find several continually YouTube recordings that Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, manifesting a plainly reduced right-sided arm swing (video 1, segments 1 and 2). Putin’s distinctive walk has actually been questioned previously, and also different theory emerged, varying from Erb’s palsy to intrauterine stroke.2 For activity disorders experts such together ourselves, the first, and admittedly biased, diagnosis that comes to mind is Parkinson’s disease, in which an asymmetrically decreased arm waver is a distinctive feature.3 In fact, it can be the more quickly presenting sign of Parkinson’s disease, together was prove by video clip reviews that football gamings played by the legend English midfielder ray Kennedy.4 original footage verified an asymmetrically reduced arm swing also when Kennedy played elite football; only later this showed to it is in the presenting sign of his Parkinson’s disease.4

The subject of early “preclinical” Parkinson’s disease is the subject of a lively debate.2 5 6 that is now clear that plenty of symptoms and also signs (such together constipation or reduced smell) have the right to precede overt Parkinson’s disease. This preclinical phase consists of a lessened arm swing top top one side. Indeed, one asymmetrically reduced arm waver can existing in otherwise clinically intact subjects through a prejudice to later develop Parkinson’s disease.7 Such observations raised a debate among us even if it is President Putin can possibly be in an early stage that Parkinson’s disease, also in the lack of various other obviously suggestive features.

However, additional review of YouTube clip revealed an different and much more likely explanation, i m sorry we current here as a brand-new cause the a reduced arm swing throughout walking.


Searching for feasible explanations, us encountered a training manual of the former Russian KGB.8 follow to this manual, KGB operatives were instructed to save their weapon in their appropriate hand close to your chest and to move forward through one side, typically the left, presumably enabling subjects to attract the total as conveniently as possible when challenged with a foe. Indeed, under “Chapter 2–Movement,” the manual offers the complying with instruction: “When moving, that is absolutely important to store your weapon against the chest or in the ideal hand. Relocating forward must be done with one side, typically the left, turned somewhat in the direction the movement.” we wondered even if it is this could explain president Putin’s gait, due to the fact that he had actually received KGB training earlier in life.9 If this were true, climate it would be reasonable to expect a similar gait “abnormality” in various other Russian public representative who could have received similar instruction during weapons maintain by the KGB or other army or knowledge agencies. We thus performed a YouTube find for videos of other Russian officials, v surprising results.


An asymmetrically decreased arm waver was established in several very ranked Russian officials, including the existing prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, two former ministers the defence (Anatoly Serdyukov and also Sergei Ivanov), and also Anatoly Sidorov, a highly ranked army commander.

Video 1, segment 1 shows Putin walking v a virtually absent right arm swing follow me the red carpet in the Kremlin. Segment 2 confirms the consistency of this finding, several years earlier, making it unlikely that an intermittent trouble (such together a pains shoulder) described the arm swing reduction. Segment 3 shows Putin displaying his substantial judo skills, excluding significant paresis or a chronic orthopaedic problem as reason of the asymmetrically diminished arm swing (which is again plainly discernible in this video). A diagnosis of Parkinson’s condition is unlikely, because other video material (segments 4-6) show no evidence of tremor, handwriting is rapid without evidence of micrographia, right hand motions are agile, and Putin has actually no an obstacle lifting weights v both arms. He is also wonderful swimmer, with symmetrical arm movements ( This motion pattern persisted the same over numerous years, i beg your pardon is inconsistent with a neurodegenerative disorder such together Parkinson’s disease. The handwriting suggests that Putin is appropriate handed (segment 4).

Medvedev has not received formal army training,10 but, when walking ~ above the red carpet throughout his presidential inauguration, his appropriate arm swing was markedly diminished (video 2, segment 1). In segment 2, Medvedev and Putin are walking side by side, both through a plainly reduced appropriate arm swing. A commentary provided that Medvedev to be “trying come ape Putin’s macho gait.”11 Medvedev’s reduced arm totter is also plainly visible in segment 3, wherein Medvedev proposes Putin for president because that the upcoming elections. Medvedev has no an obstacle lifting weights v both arms, excluding a structural appropriate arm trouble (video 1, segment 6). Choose Putin, Medvedev seems appropriate handed (video 2, segment 4).

Video 3, segment 1 reflects Anatoly Serdyukov stepping out of a car and also walking towards President Putin v a decreased right arm swing. Segment 2 unequivocally displayed Serdyukov’s diminished right eight swing ~ above a various occasion. A signing ceremony says that he also is appropriate handed (segment 3). Over there is uncertainty whether Serdyukov received military training, back one resource claims he remained in the Soviet military for at the very least one year.12 However, his place as minister that defence for 5 years does develop a clear connect to the armed forces apparatus in Russia.

Case 4: Sergei Ivanov (minister of defence 2001-07, existing chief that the presidential management of Russia)

Video 4, segment 1 shows Sergei Ivanov, at the moment minister of defence and also President Putin’s friend and KGB colleague,13 displaying a markedly diminished right eight swing. Segment 2 again mirrors Ivanov walking with a decreased right eight swing. Segment 3 reflects a third occasion whereby Ivanov walks together Putin and Medvedev v a decreased right arm swing. A signing ceremony argues that Ivanov is ideal handed (segment 4).

Case 5: Anatoly Sidorov (current command of the Western military District)

Video 5 mirrors Anatoly Sidorov walking through a decreased right arm swing. A picture of the holding a tip stick in the ideal hand says he is appropriate handed (fig 1⇓).


Fig 1 Anatoly Sidorov talk to Minister Shoigu, stop a tip with his appropriate hand. Source:


Five highly ranked Russian public official presented through an asymmetrical eight swing, which was constantly reduced on the right side and which was observed consistently throughout separate occasions in four cases. We thought about several explanations. That is unlikely that the ideal arm waver reduction can be attributed come a solid preference because that the left arm. Cases 1-4 conveniently sign documents with their ideal hand, and case 5 offers the right hand because that gesturing, so every seem to it is in dextral. Putin’s habit of put on his clock on the appropriate wrist has sustained speculation concerning his hand dominance. However, Putin does this to stop the winding system sticking into his hand—a downside to wearing big watches, which Putin prefers.14

We carry out not think the the lessened arm swing signal the existence of Parkinson’s condition in this Russian officials. A diagnosis of Parkinson’s condition requires, by definition, not only the existence of bradykinesia (this might be the decreased arm swing), but likewise the visibility of rest tremor or rigidity, or both.15 none of the five Russian public representative displayed any type of other apparent motor signs suggestive of early on parkinsonism. Because that example, Putin has actually otherwise terrific motor skills: his handwriting is fast, over there is no micrographia or tremor, appropriate hand movements are fast, he is a judo black color belt and terrific swimmer, and also has no challenge lifting weights. This contrasts markedly with, because that example, Adolf Hitler, because that whom videos and photos created a convincing case of Parkinson’s disease, v not only a reduced use the one arm but additionally a progressive course that hypomimia, remainder tremor, micrographia, stooped posture, hypokinesia, and also shuffling gait.16 17

We likewise consider the unlikely the the eight swing reduction mirrors a preclinical phase of parkinsonism. This preclinical stage does no require visibility of other motor signs, but is qualified by non-motor signs such as quick eye activity sleep behaviour disorder or constipation.2 5 6 These might understandably no be retrieved native the videos. One could argue that these 5 men, who all seem to be right handed, would certainly be prone to build early parkinsonian symptoms on the right side, since the symptoms emerge an ext often ~ above the dominant hand side.18 19 However, the highly constant presentation throughout five officials v a similar career profile argues against this possibility. Moreover, this motion pattern stayed unchanged for years in every cases, conversely, Parkinson’s condition would an ext likely be linked with appearance of various other motor features within the it was observed period.

Rather than interpret this gait pattern as pathological, us propose that it is a behavioral adaptation result from armed forces or intelligence training. A supportive debate is the reality that trainees experience KGB training room taught to save their ideal hand close come the chest even while walking, enabling them to quickly draw a pistol when faced with a foe. The is conceivable that other develops of weaponry training are connected with a similar behavioural gait adaptation. Indeed, we found other examples of a diminished arm swing related to weaponry training: cowboys depicted in movies of the “Wild West” often have a reduced right eight swing. This motivated us to present the hatchet “gunslinger’s gait” to label this brand-new gait phenotype.

To assistance this case, it is essential to attach the Russian officials to KGB membership, or at the very least to other creates of weaponry training. Both Putin and also Ivanov to be KGB officials, however this is not the instance for Medvedev, Serdyukov, and Sidorov. However, Sidorov is a current member the the Russian military, so he has actually clear links to the military apparatus. Serdyukov served in the Soviet army for at least one year, however there is no evidence for added military training. However, he to be minister of defence for five years, so he too has actually clear links to the military apparatus in Russia. The instance is weakest because that Medvedev, who does not have actually unequivocal links to any kind of military or intelligence agency. However, one reason why he might display gunslinger’s gait is the “imitate the boss” phenomenon: an extensive evidence argues that Medvedev is gift coached come sound, look, and, importantly, walk choose the president.20 21 22 The similarities between Putin and Medvedev, particularly in regards to gait, have been identified before.23 One article commented ~ above Medvedev’s gait throughout the Russian presidential choice in 2008: “When the result was announced Putin and Medvedev to walk out together onto Red Square in animal leather jackets and also jeans, Medvedev trying to ape Putin’s macho gait” (video 2, segment 2).11 the is hence conceivable the Medvedev’s diminished arm waver is additionally a behavioural adaptation. Similar mechanisms may be at play for various other Russian officials, that are known to adapt mannerisms from their superiors (“It is nothing new in Russia to imitate the boss”).22 Indeed, numerous top level bureaucrats and also members the the united Russia party have actually taken increase the habit the wearing their watch ~ above the best side, as Putin does, to present their allegiance.24

This imitation phenomenon has parallels in the ar of neurology, in instances of hyperekplexia. Specifics gene-negative family members of influenced individuals (that is, those v the minor type of hyperekplexia) can display screen the exaggerated startle reflexes seen in the genetically influenced individuals v the major kind of hyperekplexia. This minor type of hyperekplexia might represent a learnt (behaviourally adapted) startle reflex in subjects who are subjected consistently to family members members with organic frighten attacks.25 when adopted, such behavioral changes can persist for long periods and even become permanent. Certainly, long term results of repeated physical training and also acquisition of details walking patterns, such as in ballet dancers or soldiers, have the right to occur.21 22 added evidence comes from patients with psychogenic motion disorders; their motion abnormalities also represent a behavioural adaptation, and also the longer these persist, the more chronic and also persistent they become.23

It is probably no surprise that our discovery was based greatly on video coverage of major events in Russia, where Putin and also other public official marched long distances along red carpets, producing perfect problems for gait examination. We constantly tell our neurology occupants that one can not adequately assess gait (and specifically arm swing) in the limited confines of the consulting room and urge them come take your patients out into the corridor. The video clip clips presented here exemplify this well.

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We conclude that unawareness that weaponry training might lead clinicians to misdiagnose healthy individuals as having actually a pathological gait, perhaps even parkinsonian. We recommend that neurologists, in details those functioning in Russia, incorporate “gunslinger’s gait” in your differential diagnosis of one asymmetrically decreased arm swing, together with other known causes such as Parkinson’s condition and shoulder pathology.