Even after he appeared in public on Monday for the first time in 10 days, there’s still near-endless speculation about where Russian President Vladimir Putin was or what happened to him.
It’s probably nothing, right?
However, a few reporters–including one from from Bloomberg and one from AFP–said Putin’s face appeared “puffy” and “sweaty.” Another reporter from Politico described him as “ill-looking” during the meeting.
@leonidragozin Putin looks like he has the flu. Puffy, sniffling, sweating somewhat. Nasty dose is doing the rounds at our Moscow bureau..
— Jason Corcoran (@jason_corcoran) March 16, 2015
— David Patrikarakos (@dpatrikarakos) March 16, 2015
When he was asked about where he was, Putin only responded: “It would be boring without gossip.” He made a public appearance with President Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyzstan.
Some rumors about Putin include: He was sick, he had a stroke, he was fighting off a coup, he was dead, or he fathered a child.
According to the Washington Post, Putin appeared to wince when he sat down during his brief, 2-minute-long public appearance.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made fun of the speculation when he was speaking to reporters: “So, have you seen the president paralyzed and seized by the generals? He has just come back from Switzerland, where he attended the delivery,” according to The Associated Press.
Asked if Putin’s condition required treatment by an osteopath, the spokesman retorted: “Yes, the osteopath was with the generals.”
He postponed meetings with the leaders of Kazakhstan and Belarus in the past week. Hashtags like #Putindead and #Putinmissing popped up.
It also seems unlikely that Putin will ever address where he was.
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev also said Putin, 62, was OK. The Russian leader, he said, “just now drove me around the grounds; he himself sat at the wheel,” Reuters reported.
Putin has rarely disappeared from the public view during his lengthy tenure as president. His predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, sometimes went a while without making public appearances due to his poor health.
During the past week, his spokesman attempted to dispel the rumors. “No need to worry, everything is all right. He has working meetings all the time, only not all of these meetings are public,” Peskov said on Thursday, according to CNN.
Peskov likewise dismissed the rumors about Putin fathering a child.
“I am going to ask people who have money to organize a contest on the best media rumor,” he joked.