Putin health issue not 'serious': Russian PM
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russia's President Vladimir Putin. REUTERS photoPresident Vladimir Putin is not suffering from "serious" medical issues, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday, amid speculation that health problems had forced the Russian strongman to cancel foreign trips.
According to Russian media reports, Putin has postponed a number of foreign trips and largely stayed at his suburban Moscow government retreat after aggravating a sports injury. The Kremlin had insisted there has been no change to his schedule.
In an interview with Finnish media ahead of his official visit Wednesday to Helsinki, Medvedev appeared to confirm Putin was suffering from a sports-related health issue but refused to be drawn into specifics.
"There is nothing serious. Each one of us has some trifles we have to take care of," Medvedev said in a transcript of the interview published on the Russian government website.
He added that the stresses of the job required both himself and Putin to relieve tension through exercise, leading to periodic sports-related injuries.
"Listen, everyone has the right to look after his health. You asked me if it was difficult to work as president or prime minister. And I said yes, it is difficult," said Medvedev.
"In order to stay in shape, you have to involve yourself in sports. And like others, President Putin, in order to stay in shape, has to do a lot of sports," said Medvedev, who served as president between 2008 and May of this year.
"But otherwise, he is alive and well and -- thank God -- everything is fine," he added.
Speculation about Putin's health has been rife since the 60-year-old was seen limping at an Asian nations summit in September.
The Kremlin said at the time that Putin, a judo black belt who likes to project a he-man image, had aggravated an old sports injury but was otherwise feeling fine.
The Kremlin was most recently forced to deny reports that Putin intended to skip a Russia-EU summit set for December 21 in Brussels.