Russia’s top diplomat has again been forced to address persistent reports in the West that President Vladimir Putin is suffering from an undisclosed illness, denying the 69-year-old Mr. Putin faces any serious health issues and accusing those who question his stamina and judgment of having ulterior motives.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in an interview late Sunday with French television network TF1, once again insisted that Mr. Putin is not sick.
“President Vladimir Putin makes public appearances on a daily basis,” Mr. Lavrov said when asked directly about Mr. Putin’s status. “You can see him on TV screens, read and listen to his speeches. I don’t think that a sane person can suspect any signs of an illness or ailment in this man.”
“I’ll leave it on the conscience of those who disseminate such rumors despite daily opportunities for everyone to see how he and others look like,” he added.
Discussions about Mr. Putin’s health are virtually taboo inside Russia, but outside analysts say his face has appeared puffy and his gait unsteady in recent videos and there appeared to be a suspicious tremor in at least one of his hands.
Mr. Putin has been largely isolated from major gatherings for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, meeting with Western visitors and even close advisers before and after his Feb. 24 decision to invade Ukraine from comically long distances across huge rooms.
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Kremlin officials have repeatedly tried to shoot down past reports that Mr. Putin is dealing with a major health issue, variously diagnosed as cancer, chronic back pain or Parkinson’s disease.