Speculation Swirls Over Putin’s Health After Flight With Cranes

Speculation Swirls Over Putin’s Health After Flight With Cranes

Published: November 1, 2012 (Issue # 1733)

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has delayed a series of official visits abroad, giving rise to speculation that he is suffering from an injury exacerbated during a hang-glider flight with a flock of rare Siberian cranes in September.

Although the Kremlin officially cites Putin’s busy schedule as the reason for the postponement of the official visits, news reports said Thursday that Putin’s health was to blame.

“According to two people very close to the Kremlin, the president really is experiencing health problems, which are connected to an old injury that flared up after his flight with cranes,” Vedomosti reported.

“After the flight, it was very noticeable that he had a limp at the APEC summit in Vladivostok,” the report said.

Responding to the speculation Thursday, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, confirmed that Putin had suffered an injury before the Vladivostok summit but described it as a minor “muscle strain.”

“Every athlete has many injuries, especially those who play sport actively and on a daily basis, like Putin. He has trained for a long time, practically semi-professionally,” Peskov said in comments carried by Interfax.

Among excuses for the changes to Putin’s schedule, Peskov earlier cited the president’s desire to travel less frequently into the center of Moscow so as to prevent traffic jams on the capital’s busy roads.

He also explained that Putin’s trip to India, which was penciled in for early November, had been put off to make the visit as productive as possible.

Putin’s flight with the cranes, dubbed the “Flight of Hope,” was hailed by supporters at the time as a genuine effort to attract attention to the species’ fate but ridiculed by opponents as a publicity stunt.

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