Heartbreak: Putin apparently alive and well

Vladimir Putin attended a meeting with Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev today, scotching rumors of ill health.

Looking fit and relaxed, the Russian president met the press and joked about all the speculation surrounding his disappearance from view for 10 days.

Reuters:

Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed off suggestions he had been forced to lie low because of poor health, saying on Monday that life would be "boring without gossip".

In a carefully choreographed double-act, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev also vouched for the Russian leader's health, saying that Putin "just now drove me around the grounds, he himself sat at the wheel" after they met in St Petersburg.

Putin smiled easily as he sat before television cameras in the Constantine Palace in Russia's second city in his first public appearance since March 5.

"It would be boring without gossip," Putin, looking relaxed if pale, told reporters.

Putin's absence from public view, a rare occurrence in Russia's largely state-controlled media, had triggered a number of theories about the leader, ranging from him suffering poor health to being toppled in a palace coup by security hawks.

No word from the Kremlin on where Putin was during the last 10 days, nor has there been any explanation why he missed two meetings with other world leaders last week.

It's amazing how wild the rumors surrounding Putin's disappearance have gotten.  From what we know of Putin, he no doubt enjoyed all the attention and speculation, and you have to wonder if he didn't play along with the story for a while just to keep the focus on him.

But now, it's back to work, undermining the peace abroad and supressing dissent at home.  A dictator's work is never done, and Putin's labors in Ukraine and against his domestic opposition are once again capturing his full attention.

Vladimir Putin attended a meeting with Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev today, scotching rumors of ill health.

Looking fit and relaxed, the Russian president met the press and joked about all the speculation surrounding his disappearance from view for 10 days.

Reuters:

Russian President Vladimir Putin laughed off suggestions he had been forced to lie low because of poor health, saying on Monday that life would be "boring without gossip".

In a carefully choreographed double-act, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev also vouched for the Russian leader's health, saying that Putin "just now drove me around the grounds, he himself sat at the wheel" after they met in St Petersburg.

Putin smiled easily as he sat before television cameras in the Constantine Palace in Russia's second city in his first public appearance since March 5.

"It would be boring without gossip," Putin, looking relaxed if pale, told reporters.

Putin's absence from public view, a rare occurrence in Russia's largely state-controlled media, had triggered a number of theories about the leader, ranging from him suffering poor health to being toppled in a palace coup by security hawks.

No word from the Kremlin on where Putin was during the last 10 days, nor has there been any explanation why he missed two meetings with other world leaders last week.

It's amazing how wild the rumors surrounding Putin's disappearance have gotten.  From what we know of Putin, he no doubt enjoyed all the attention and speculation, and you have to wonder if he didn't play along with the story for a while just to keep the focus on him.

But now, it's back to work, undermining the peace abroad and supressing dissent at home.  A dictator's work is never done, and Putin's labors in Ukraine and against his domestic opposition are once again capturing his full attention.