What’s wrong with Vladimir Putin? – POLITICO


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Never believe anything in politics until it’s officially denied.

And even then, when it comes to Vladimir Putin’s health, you can still be forgiven for being at a loss about what to believe, given the bewildering frenzy of speculation over whether something is wrong with the Russian president.

The rumor mill about the now strangely puffy-faced 69-year-old has reached such a fever pitch that Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov this week felt it necessary to shoot down any suggestion that Putin was sick. “You know, President Putin appears in public every day. You can see him on the screens, read his speeches, listen to his speeches,” he said, speaking to French media TF1.

“I don’t think sane people can discern any sort of symptom of disease in this man,” Lavrov continued.  

Sane or not, media have for months speculated over the state of the Russian leader, interpreting everything from his bloated appearance as a sign of steroid-use, to implying the Russian leader has Parkinson’s and cancer. Video footage showing Putin fiercely gripping a table while looking uncomfortable during a recent meeting, making twitchy hand gestures and seeming to limp during Russia’s Victory Day parade, have only added to this free-for-all among armchair physicians.

Doctors have so far argued none of this is strong enough to indicate Putin is ill, and only an up-close diagnosis could verify the rumors. Intelligence experts have largely agreed.  

In truth, the rumors must sting for a leader so obsessed with his virile image. Putin has long attempted to cast himself as a strongman, in every sense of the term. His displays of hyper-masculinity have become notorious across the world — from riding on horseback half-naked in Siberia, to firing brand new Kalashnikovs in Moscow and playing ice hockey with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in St. Petersburg.

But this game of whack-a-mole around the president’s health — as rumors surface in the press and the Kremlin scrambles to stamp them out — is nothing new. Here is a brief summary of the top moments when Putin’s health came into question over the years, and how the government sought to shut them down.

Sporting tumbles

The incidents: 

Putin likes to project an image of himself as a keen sportsman, but the reality has not always gone so smoothly for the Russian leader.

Back in September 2012, Russian newspaper Vedomosti reported that Putin had hurt himself during a hang-gliding flight that had exacerbated an injury, sparking speculation about the leader’s back. After postponing a high-profile foreign visit and allegedly being seen wearing a back brace, Putin reportedly readied himself for back surgery.

What’s wrong with Vladimir Putin? – POLITICO
Vladimir Putin | Alexey Nikolsky/AFP via Getty Images

Generally, he seems to weather bumps quite well. In 2017, during an ice hockey match, Putin suddenly fell off his skates onto his back, skidding across the ice with his feet in the air. And that wasn’t the only time he went down. In 2019 he face-planted on the ice during a victory lap following a game.

The Kremlin response: 

Amid reports of the hang-gliding accident in 2012, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov told Reuters that Putin did not have a back problem. “This does not correspond to reality,” Peskov said at the time, insisting he had just suffered a “sports injury.”

Putin’s ally Lukashenko later said the Russian president’s back issues stemmed from an incident related to judo. That only further burnished Putin’s hardman sporting credentials.

COVID-19

The incidents:

Putin’s numerous high-level meetings across his gigantic 6-meter-long table have spurred copious internet memes, but also became a symbol of his hyper-cautious approach toward COVID-19.

In November 2020, Putin was addressing his finance minister at a virtual meeting about the coronavirus pandemic when he broke out in a coughing fit. “Excuse me,” he said, while he attempted to keep speaking.

Then in September 2021, when dozens in his inner circle contracted COVID-19, Putin was forced to self-isolate for two weeks, prompting him to enforce draconian rules for all those who sought to meet him in-person, including mandatory two-week quarantines.

This nervousness about sitting too close to interlocutors raised speculation that Putin could be in a highly vulnerable group, or could indeed fear someone turning his own tricks against him and exposing him to a lethal toxin.

The Kremlin response:

The Kremlin immediately edited out the worst of the coughing fit from 2020 — including the “excuse me” — but also denied it was serious. “The president apologized and continued the meeting almost without pausing,” reported TASS.

As for rumors that Putin’s long table showed his acute fear of contracting COVID-19, Peskov said the table was an “exclusively epidemiological measure.”

Mysterious cold

The incident:

In 2018, with just one month to go until a crucial presidential election, Putin disappeared from public sight for two days. After previous wall-to-wall TV coverage of the Russian leader on the campaign trail, visiting factories and meeting schoolchildren, he suddenly canceled a string of appearances, including an event at Moscow’s VDNH exhibition.

The Kremlin response:

In a rare admission, Peskov told reporters at the time the president had “a cold” and was indeed ill. “It’s winter,” he added.

And while independent Russian outlet TV Rain — which has since been shuttered — found evidence Putin was also ditching a planned trip to the Far East, Peskov denied this was canceled, given it had never been announced publicly.

Oncologists and antler baths

The incident:

On April 1, Russian investigative outlet Proekt found evidence that Putin does in fact suffer from chronic back pain. It also found that an oncologist had visited Putin 35 times in four years, spending 166 days in residence with him — and that other specialist doctors who often help diagnose thyroid diseases including cancer also paid him visits.

What’s wrong with Vladimir Putin? – POLITICO
Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting on a mountain ridge | Alexey Nikolsky/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. film director Oliver Stone, who has interviewed Putin several times, told podcaster Lex Fridman that Putin had battled cancer, but thought he had “licked” it. A former British spy who worked in Russia for many years, Christopher Steele, said Putin was “seriously ill” and claimed his disease was “an element” in Russia invading Ukraine.

On the more bizarre side of things, the Proekt investigation also alleged the Russian leader enjoys bathing in blood extracted from Altai red deer horns based on the recommendation of his now-Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The Kremlin response:

This time, Peskov stepped in again to deny Proekt’s claims more forcefully. On the very same day the investigation emerged, he called reports that Putin had ever had cancer or been operated on for it “fiction and untruth.”

“Very ill”

The incident:

In May, New Lines Magazine claimed to have got its hands on a hidden recording of an oligarch “close to the Kremlin” who said in mid-March this year that Putin is “very ill with blood cancer.” But it remains unclear what exactly the supposed oligarch’s agenda was — he went on to say “we all hope” Putin dies — or how close he really is to the president.

The Kremlin response:

The Kremlin did not respond directly to the allegations, nor did the New Lines report discuss whether it had contacted the government for a request for comment.

But New Lines went on to report that around the same time as the recording was made, an email was sent to every regional director of Russia’s FSB security service instructing them not to believe rumors about the president’s “terminal condition.”




Soruce : https://www.politico.eu/article/backpain-cancer-and-covid-vladimir-putin-top-health-scares-throughout-the-years/

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