Russian President Vladimir Putin has seen his health become a hot topic in Moscow in recent months after he cancelled a number of foreign engagements. Rumors so far have revolved around a back injury incurred wither through judo or crane-flying, while other, darker reports have pointed towards terminal cancer.
New statements from Japan are likely to add fuel to the fire.
According to reports in the Japanese press, planned Russia-Japan talks have been unexpectedly postponed. The mayor of one Northern Japanese town apparently quoted Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda as saying "President Putin's health condition is bad."
Another quote attributed to Noda, and carried by Reuters, said "It's about [Putin's] health problem. This is not something that can be made public." AFP spoke to a Japanese government source who confirmed it was Russia who cancelled the talks.
Kremlin press officers have (again) denied the rumors, and said that the date of the talks had never been confirmed. "The president's health, I can repeat for the hundredth time, is absolutely normal, and he has a very, very overloaded work schedule," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Kommersant FM radio.
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