It’s at least the third time the Kremlin has been forced to deny rumors of the president’s ill health.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has denied that Vladimir Putin is seriously ill in the wake of numerous reports suggesting that the Russian leader has cancer.
“You know, President Putin appears in public every day. You can see him on the screens, read his speeches, listen to his speeches,” Lavrov said, speaking to French media TF1. “I don’t think sane people can discern any sort of symptom of disease in this man.”
Lavrov’s remarks are not the first time the Russian government has been forced to deny reports about Putin’s health.
Last week, a former British spy who worked in Russia for many years, Christopher Steele, said Putin was “seriously ill” and claimed his disease was “an element” in Russia invading Ukraine.
Earlier in May, New Lines Magazine obtained what it said was a recording of an oligarch close to the Kremlin who claimed Putin is “very ill with blood cancer.” That piece came out after every regional director of Russia’s FSB security service reportedly received an email on March 13 instructing them not to believe rumors about the president’s “terminal condition.”
In March, the Kremlin also rushed to deny rumors of Putin’s ill health and mental strain, with Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov insisting the president’s emotional state was “normal.”
Nonetheless, an investigation by Russian investigative outlet Proekt in April found that the Russian leader suffers from chronic back pain and that a specialist oncologist had visited Putin 35 times in four years. It also found that the president’s medical entourage almost doubled in size between 2017 and 2019.
Peskov stepped in again after that report, calling such claims “fiction and untruth.”
It did little to stop the rumor mill from turning. In May, Former KGB agent Boris Karpichkov told the Sun — without evidence — that he believes Putin is suffering from “numerous” ailments including dementia and Parkinson’s.
It came after weeks of tabloid speculation about the president’s health, with numerous media outlets pointing to Putin gripping hold of a table while looking uncomfortable during a meeting, and appearing to limp during Russia’s Victory Day parade. It has also been suggested that the president’s visibly bloated appearance could be due to the use of steroids, which can be used against cancer.
The popular Telegram channel General SVR, which claims to be run by a former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) lieutenant general, claimed that the Russian leader had recently undergone surgery during which he had handed over the reins to Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council.
But experts have largely agreed so far that the evidence around Putin’s health is insufficient. Three U.S. military and intelligence experts told Business Insider such rumors were not credible.