Putin Denies Health Problem; Says Opponents ‘Wait in Vain’

MOSCOW, December 20 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday dismissed rumors that he has a serious health problem and said his political opponents were the ones benefiting from speculation about it.

“It’s beneficial for [my] political opponents, who are trying to question the government’s legitimacy or effectiveness,” Putin said at a news conference.

“To the question about my health I can just say: ‘You wait in vain.’”

Last month rumors that the president was suffering from serious health problem began circulating in the Russian press, with some speculating that the president had a serious back problem that would eventually need surgery. The business daily Vedomosti cited some Kremlin insiders as saying his health problems were related to an old injury that flared up after he flew a motorized ultralight in September in a widely publicized flight with cranes. Earlier that month, he seemed to limp at the APEC summit in Vladivostok. Putin canceled a number of foreign trips scheduled for October and November.

The Kremlin has denied Putin had any problems, with presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov attributing the back pain to a muscle he pulled during judo practice.

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