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Putin Makes First Public Appearance For 11 Days

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appeared in public for the first time since 5 March.The 62-year-old met Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev at the Constantine Palace, outside St Petersburg, on Monday. Laughing off speculation that ill health had forced him out of the public eye, Mr Putin said: “It would be boring without the gossip.” Mr Atambayev also vouched for his health, saying Putin “just now drove me around the grounds, he himself sat at the wheel”.
The Russian leader was last seen in public when he hosted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The Kremlin claimed he had officially held meetings since 5 March and released photos and videos of him on national television, but Russian media reported the images had been taken much earlier.

Last week, he postponed a trip to Kazakhstan fuelling speculation that he was unwell.


© AP Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles, during his meeting with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev in the Konstantin Palace outside St. Petersburg, Russia His absence also sparked other rumours, including a theory he had been overthrown by security agencies in a coup or another reported by a Swiss newspaper that he had travelled to Switzerland after his alleged girlfriend had given birth to their baby.

Commenting on the rumours, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “So, have you seen the president paralysed and seized by the generals?

“He has just come back from Switzerland where he attended the delivery.”

Putin prides himself on his macho image as Russian leader, and said in 2008 he worked “like a galley slave” to run the country.

It comes after he launched a massive military exercise involving 40,000 servicemen in the Arctic.

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