Mystery is continuing to swirl around the state of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s health, and while denials continue to emanate from the Kremlin that nothing is wrong with the 60-year-old leader — nobody knows for sure.
The health rumors first began skyrocketing when newspapers in Japan said Putin had been set to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda next month, but then suddenly cancelled due to frail health.
Noda reportedly told a group of Japanese politicians that “Putin’s health condition is bad,’’ and added that Russia is trying to keep it a secret from the world.
Those reports were, and continue to be, vigorously denied by the Kremlin, which insists that Putin’s visit to Japan never had been definitively set.
“”[His] health is not preventing him from working or travelling,’’ sniffed Tass, the official Russian news agency that is tightly controlled by the government.
Putin’s health also has been called into question in the past few months after he was spotted walking in public with a distinctive limp.
Putin never commented on the affliction, but there has been whispered speculation that the athletically-active politician suffered a serious spinal injury during a martial-exhibition of Judo, which he has practiced since the age of 14.
Still, another rumor surfaced that Putin aggravated an old injury in September as he was hang-gliding.
One respected Russian newspaper claimed the hang-gliding mishap occurred during a publicity stunt in which Putin tried to lead cranes on their migratory paths in a motorized glider. But his office denied it.
Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has told the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda the rumors of ill-health were “blown out of proportion. He is working as before, and plans to continue to work at the same pace.’’
Pescov also insisted the muscule-bound Putin, who is often photographed bare-chested during his workouts, is not cutting back on his sports activities.
“As any athlete, he may sometimes have pain in back, or arm, or leg — [but] that has never affected his work efficiency.’’
Putin has been an enthusiastic sportsman for years. He is an alpine skier, ice skater, and plays ice hockey. He has also co-authored a book on Judo called “Judo with Vladimir Putin.’’
To further discount the rumors, the Kremlin says Putin is keeping to a busy schedule. He is scheduled to visit Turkey on Monday, and also preparing to deliver an annual presidential state-of-the-union address to the Federal Assembly in mid-December.
“I and the presidential administration are working actively on the final variant of [the address],’’ Putin said Friday, according to Tass.
Whether the protests of the Kremlin and Tass can be believed in their protestations is up in the air.
Both have routinely been accused over the years of stretching the truth or outright lying in deference to the party line.
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