MOSCOW (TIP): Russian President Vladimir Putin is in good health, the Kremlin said on March 12, dismissing rumours that the leader was suffering from an illness after a foreign trip was cancelled. A Kazakh governmental source said Putin’s trip to Astana scheduled for this week was cancelled because Putin had fallen ill, stirring speculation on social media that something had happened to the 62-year-old leader.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked by Reuters if the president was in good health, replied “yes”. “He has meetings all the time,” Peskov said by telephone. “He has meetings today, tomorrow. I don’t know which ones we will make public.” The daily RBK said Putin had not been seen live on television since a March 5 meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Photographs on the Kremlin website showed him at meetings dated March 10 and March 11.
Markets shrug off reports
Markets had shrugged off the rumours about Putin, and the rouble was trading slightly stronger on Thursday. The last time Putin’s health was in the spotlight was in 2012. Three sources told Reuters that Putin, who was seen limping in public, was suffering from back pain. The Kremlin denied that Putin had back problems. Putin was not the only subject of rumour. The editor in chief of Nezavisimaya newspaper tweeted late on Wednesday that he had been told that Putin’s ally Igor Sechin, the chief executive officer of Rosneft Russia’s largest oil producer, would be fired on March 12. A Rosneft spokesman described the remark as wrong.
Russian politics, through the Soviet era and beyond, has traditionally been fertile ground for rumour because of the secrecy surrounding leaders. Peskov, asked by Ekho Moskvy if the president’s handshake remained firm, answered:”handbreakingly so.”