Russian officials were forced on Thursday to insist that President Vladimir Putin was in good health as rumors spread all over the Internet that he had fallen ill. Russia dismissed rumors that the leader was suffering from an illness. The 62-year-old leader rarely takes a time off and maintains a fit, tough-guy image.
Putin cancels two meetings in two days
Rumors about his health began surfacing after Moscow cancelled Putin’s trip to Kazakhstan. A Kazakh government official told Maria Tsvetkoka of Reuters, “It looks like he has fallen ill.” The visit was scheduled for this week. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian media that the Russian leader was “absolutely healthy.” But Peskov admitted that Putin’s schedule was “very intensive” due to the Ukraine crisis and the country’s economic difficulties.
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On Wednesday, the Russian President was scheduled to meet a delegation from Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia. But the meeting was postponed right when the South Ossetia officers were about to boarded the plane. The meeting had been rescheduled for March 18. According to the daily RBK, Putin was last seen on television on March 5 when he met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Russians curious about what Putin is up to
The people of Russia have become increasingly curious about what their omnipresent leader is up to. Images on the Kremlin website showed Putin at meetings dated March 10 and March 11. But the RBK news website claims that the Kremlin photographs were taken earlier. The Russian President also failed to show up at the FSB security agency’s meeting. Peskov said the President’s attendance at the FSB meeting was not planned.
Politicians in Russia have historically been subject to a lot of rumors, largely due to secrecy surrounding them. The last time the Russian strongman’s health came into focus was in 2012 when he cancelled a series of foreign trips. At the time, he appeared to have developed a limp, which Russian officials said was due to a sports injury.