Is Vladimir Putin hospitalized with a stroke? Rumors were flying fast and furious on Twitter last night, and the Interpreter has collected most of the circumstantial evidence here. The liberal radio station Echo Moskvy has a story leading its homepage noting that Putin has not been seen in public since March 6. The website Russkiy Monitor has published an article based on an anonymous note it received:
An email arrived in the inbox of Russkiy Monitor signed by an anonymous official of the Central Clinical Hospital of the Department of Presidential Affairs in Moscow, in which he reported that among the patients of this elite Moscow hospital, where the top leadership of the Russian Federation are registered, rumors were circulating that Vladimir Putin was diagnosed several days ago with an ischemic stroke. Even so, the source said that the president was not hospitalized directly at the Central Clinical Hospital.The editorial board of Russian Monitor cannot confirm or deny the information which might very well be false. However we must note the fact that the president has not been seen in public since last week, his meeting with the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan was unexpectedly cancelled. Observers note that since Putin has been in power, nothing of this sort has occurred.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, was briefly interviewed by Echo Moskvy last night, and he denied anything was wrong:
Echo: There are a lot of rumors—and we are worried, and the people are worried, and our listeners as well. About the health of the president.Peskov: Of course, no need to worry. Everything is fine.Echo: He is healthy?Peskov: Absolutely.Echo: His handshake is strong?Peskov: He’s breaking hands.
The handshake question from Echo suggests that the rumors are specifically of a stroke having taken place. WSJ‘s Moscow Bureau Chief Greg White recalls a parallel with an earlier time:
Back to the future: Peskov asked if Putin's handshake is firm, just as Yeltsin's spox was in the 90s. http://t.co/CoewGqGOFa— greg white (@whitegl) March 12, 2015