Russian President Vladimir Putin has not been seen in public for over a week and rumours are already flying over the possibly deteriorating health of the statesman.
Putin has not been in public since his March 5 meeting with the Italian prime minister. Already, the Russian internet is inundated with rumours concerning the president’s death given that he hasn’t been out of the public eye for 3 days or more in years.
The rumours started after Putin canceled a trip to Astana, Kazakhstan that was scheduled for this week, Reuters reports. A Kazakh source said that Putin had canceled the trip after becoming ill.
Rumours surrounding Putin’s health are fairly common. Germany’s Bildt reported last year, citing rumours, that Putin was suffering from pancreatic cancer.
Any claims of illness were quickly denied by Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who told Reuters that Putin “has meetings all the time. He has meetings today, tomorrow. I don’t know which ones we will make public.”
Peskov’s claims instantly lent more fuel to the rumour mill. The flood of rumours surrounding Putin became even more pronounced after it was discovered that images of Putin celebrating International Woman’s Day on March 8 were actually pre-recorded on March 5, the same day as the meeting with the Italian prime minister.
According to the BBC, this use of canned footage of Putin is relatively common. Material is often shot of Putin in advance and then put on hold, only to be released to coincide with external events at a later date, such as on International Woman’s Day.
It is not known outside of the Kremlin and Kremlin instructed media of how much of this canned footage exists. However, if Putin were to be genuinely suffering from poor health, this footage could continue to be released for some time to reassure both the public and the international audience.
Here are some of the last genuine images of Putin in public. They were taken on March 5, during the president’s meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the Kremlin.
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