Putin Said to Cancel Meetings as Kremlin Says His Health Is Good

Russian President Vladimir Putin canceled several meetings at home this week and delayed a planned summit in Kazakhstan, according to two officials.

No reason was given for the cancellations, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified as discussing the president’s schedule. Putin, 62, is “absolutely” in good health, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday, declining to comment further.

Peskov said that Putin’s meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, was postponed from this week by mutual agreement.

Reuters reported citing an unidentified Kazakh official that the reason for the delay may be that Putin was sick.

The Russian leader canceled or postponed five foreign trips over more than a month in late 2012 as officials including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev repeatedly denied that Putin was ill or was undergoing treatment for back pain.

Peskov said on Nov. 6 that year that Putin had been injured while sparring with a much heavier opponent during judo training, according to RIA Novosti, while the Moscow-based newspaper Vedomosti reported on Nov. 1 that he had aggravated an old back injury during a flight on a motorized hang glider in September.

Russians grew used to guessing about the health of their leaders in the Soviet era, especially in the 1980s when three Communist Party chiefs died in quick succession, and during President Boris Yeltsin’s increasing feeble grip on power in the 1990s. Putin has cultivated an image as a sporty action man, while Peskov told reporters to “bite your tongue” in October last year, according to RIA Novosti, as he denied a New York Post report that the president may have cancer.

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