Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman has denied media reports suggesting that an old sports injury was aggravated by Putin's recent hang-glider flight with endangered cranes or is hampering the president's work.
In recent weeks, Putin has rarely left his official residence outside Moscow. He has also postponed his annual question-and-answer session with the public.
On November 1, Russia's business daily "Vedomosti" cited unnamed sources close to the Kremlin as saying that Putin's September flight in a motorized hang glider to accompany migrating cranes aggravated an old back injury and that he is undergoing treatment for it.
Reuters news agency also said it was told by government sources that Putin was suffering from back trouble.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov acknowledged on November 1 that Putin had a strained back, but he said Putin became a semiprofessional athlete a long time ago and the injury was caused by heavy exercise.
"The flight with the cranes did not aggravate anything. But it is true that [Putin] had an old injury, an ordinary sports injury, he had pulled a muscle," Peskov told with Kommersant FM radio.
No Changes Planned
Putin, a judo black belt, has long cultivated a tough-guy image. He has in recent years been filmed riding bare-chested on a horse, scuba diving in the Black Sea, and skiing in the Caucasus.
Peskov said nothing has changed in Putin's activities, and that he "is working out as usual, regularly -- daily, if possible."
The presidential spokesman said Putin was making infrequent trips to the Kremlin because he did not want his motorcade to further disrupt Moscow's already heavy traffic.
"According to his schedule, [Putin] simply doesn't have any ceremonial events that require his presence in the Kremlin," Peskov said.
"Unless it is really necessary [to go to central Moscow] , he prefers to work [at his residence] in Novo-Ogaryovo so he doesn't bother Moscow drivers unnecessarily."
Peskov also denied that trips abroad Putin had been expected to take in November had been postponed. The spokesman said no official dates for the visits to India, Bulgaria, and Turkey had been announced.
The Commonwealth of Independent States said its summit in Turkmenistan -- initially planned for early November -- will take place on December 5.
Peskov said Putin's annual question-and-answer session with the public usually held in December has been put off to a "warmer" season.
Putin has been holding live question-and-answer sessions every year since 2001.
The Kremlin spokesman said Putin is considering holding a "big" press conference before the end of the year.
With reporting by "Kommersant," "Vedomosti," Interfax, AP, and AFP