The PJ Tatler

Is Putin Well? Nixed Trip Stokes Rumors of Stroke

putinkarelia

The photo released Wednesday by the Kremlin showing Vladimir Putin with Head of the Republic of Karelia Alexander Khudilainen.

Rumors have been swirling about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s taking usually unheard of sick days.

Putin was supposed to go to Kazakhstan this week to meet in Astana with President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, but a Kazakh official told Reuters, “The visit has been cancelled. It looks like he has fallen ill.”

Belarus officials wouldn’t comment, the report said.

Russia’s Interfax news agency got Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, to confirm the Kazakh cancellation. But “the president feels fine,” that report said.

The Moscow Times said Peskov “did not pick up repeated phone calls.”

A Russian news outlet reported that a Wednesday ceremony to formally ink an annexation agreement between Moscow and South Ossetia was canceled. The Interpreter cites another Russian newspaper saying that meeting was scrapped because the agreement wasn’t ready.

Still, the delegation from South Ossetia didn’t find out the ceremony was canceled until after they got to Moscow.

The Kremlin posted stories and photos of two meetings it says happened this week: on Tuesday with Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area Governor Dmitry Kobylkin and on Wednesday with Head of the Republic of Karelia Alexander Khudilainen.

A series of photos from each meeting showed Putin sitting up in a chair across the table from the officials.

One tweet noted that Putin was wearing the same tie in the photo dated Tuesday as he did for an event two days before. His ties are different, though, in the photos dated Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Interpreter posted a translation of an email received by the Russkiy Monitor, which they said was “signed by an anonymous official of the Central Clinical Hospital of the Department of Presidential Affairs in Moscow, in which he reported that among the patients of this elite Moscow hospital, where the top leadership of the Russian Federation are registered, there were rumors that Vladimir Putin was diagnosed several days ago with an ischemic stroke.”

The Interpreter also forwards a rumor that the Russian Embassy in London is in a tizzy about some sort of pending announcement.

“Even so, the source said that the president was not hospitalized directly at the Central Clinical Hospital,” the report continued. “The editorial board of Russian Monitor cannot confirm or deny the information which might very well be false, however  we must note the fact that the president has not been seen in public since last week, his meeting with the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan was unexpectedly cancelled. Observers note that since Putin has been in power, nothing of this sort has occurred.”

At age 62, Putin is just two years under the average life expectancy for males in Russia. He regularly puts on macho displays, with shirts and without, to prove his virility to the populace, and Vanity Fair declared in a 2013 headline, “Vladimir Putin’s Face Appears to Contain More Botulism Than Drug-Store Sushi.”

After the New York Post reported rumors last fall that Putin had been battling pancreatic cancer, Putin’s spokesman said journalists “should shut their trap” because “everything’s OK.”

When Putin missed a 2012 trip to Japan, the Kremlin blamed a “minor sports injury.”