By Madeleine Hillyer,
International News Writer
Vladmir Putin’s recent public appearance with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atanbayev put an end to many rumors which had been circulating in the media this past week regarding the Russian president’s disappearance.
The concerns started one week after his last public appearance and the subsequent cancellation of events such as a trip to Kazakhstan’s capital to meet with the Kazakh and Belarusian presidents. Comments from a Kazakh official furthered speculation when he stated the meeting between the presidents had been cancelled because Mr. Putin had fallen ill. Indeed, this 10 day public absence proved rather unusual for the Kremlin leader who is known for his attraction to the spotlight.
There have been many media reports swirling with speculation about Putin’s whereabouts ranging from the serious to the ridiculous. Hashtags of #PutinMissing and #PutinDead were trending globally. The rumors circulating included theories that the President’s health had deteriorated, that he was being held in the palace due to a coup, and even that he had snuck off to Switzerland for the birth of his love child.
While the Kremlin denied any of this rumors to be true they also did not offer any explanation for President Putin’s absence, nor did they offer a reason for his cancelled appearances. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated Putin had still been very active all week and released pictures of him in palace meetings with other officials, although this did little to quell media interest in the missing President.
When President Putin was asked about his absence and his health he laughed it off, according to NBC news, saying, “It would be dull without gossip.”
President Atanbayev also commented on Putin’s health at their meeting saying, “the president of Russia not only walks, but speeds around,” as the Russian President had given him a tour of the palace grounds.
The President’s spokesman also addressed the rumors surrounding the President’s absence by sarcastically saying to members of the press “So, have you seen the president paralyzed and seized by the generals? He has just come back from Switzerland where he attended the delivery.” Mr. Peskov also added, on a more serious note, that the Kremlin had grown tired of answering questions regarding the President’s health and other rumors related to his absence, according to NBC News.
Along with the President’s reappearance came the announcement of new military exercise in Northern Russia, where Russian navy’s Northern Fleet in the Arctic was ordered to full combat readiness by Mr. Putin, according to BBC.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 24th print edition.
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