Medvedev Brushes Off Putin’s Health Problems as Concerns Mount
President Vladimir Putin’s health problems are “nothing serious,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in the highest-level response to speculation the Russian leader’s condition has prevented all foreign trips for a month.
“We all have some minor issues we have to deal with,” Medvedev said in an interview with Finnish media, according to a transcript e-mailed by his office today. “Is it hard to be a president or prime minister? It’s hard. Every person has the right to look after their health.”
Putin, 60, who extended his more than decade-long rule in March elections, made his last visit abroad on Oct. 4-5 to Tajikistan. Domestic trips and visits to countries including Turkey and Pakistan were canceled or delayed. He also annulled his annual call-in show scheduled next month and has conducted most official business at his residence outside Moscow.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has said the Russian leader pulled a muscle in his back in early September, which is requiring no treatment and has no effect on planned foreign trips. Speaking on Nov. 1, Peskov dismissed speculation that Putin aggravated an old back injury during a Sept. 6 flight leading a flock of endangered cranes in a motorized hang glider before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Russia’s Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
The Vedomosti business newspaper on Nov. 1 cited two people close to the Kremlin as saying that Putin re-injured his back during the stunt with the birds and is now undergoing treatment. Doctors advised him against any flights, according to Vedomosti. A summit of former Soviet states that was preliminarily scheduled for Nov. 1-2 was moved to Dec. 5, while Putin’s visits to Turkey and India may now take place on Dec. 3 and Dec. 24, respectively, according to the newspaper.
“President Putin, to stay in shape, has to do a lot of sport,” Medvedev said. “And he is alive and well, and thanks God, all is fine with him.”
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