The European press is awash with rumours that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not in the best of health; The Guardian claims that according to “unconfirmed and unverifiable reports”, he is suffering from cancer or Parkinson’s disease.

There is also talk that the Russian leader “has survived a coup attempt or, as some tabloids think, he is already dead and has been replaced by a body double.”

But, the paper says, this may be just wishful thinking for Putin’s many critics, who appear ready to embrace conspiracy theories of divine vengeance or palace coups for his unrelenting assault on Ukraine.

Guardian quotes an interview with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, where the foreign minister was forced to deny speculation that Putin was ill or dying.

“President Vladimir Putin appears in public every day,” Lavrov said in an interview with French television. “You can watch him on screens, read and listen to his performances. I don’t think that sane people can see signs of some kind of illness or poor health.”

On Monday, Putin spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan, and chaired a meeting of his security council. Both meetings were said to have been held remotely.

Last week, Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said he believed that Putin was both seriously ill and that he had survived a recent coup attempt, saying only that the supposed attackers came from the Caucasus region.

One report from the Proekt investigative website said that Putin is believed to have thyroid cancer or another disease.

The report was based on leaked travel documents that showed that Putin had received regular visits from an oncologist and from two otolaryngologists, whom the outlet said would often make a first diagnosis of a thyroid condition. The Kremlin has not confirmed any reports about Putin being sick, saying that the Russian leader is in excellent health.

Meanwhile, Valentin Yumashev, the son-in-law of former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin who helped Vladimir Putin come to power, has quit his role as a Kremlin adviser, two people familiar with Yumashev’s thinking told Reuters.

Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2022

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