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Russian State TV Shows Putin For First Time In Days


Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Russia's Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev at a meeting the Kremlin says took place on March 13.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) and Russia's Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev at a meeting the Kremlin says took place on March 13.

Russian state television has shown footage of President Vladimir Putin at a meeting the Kremlin says was held on March 13.

State-run Rossia-24 showed video of Putin and Russian Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev.

Putin, 62, had not been seen publicly since March 5.

In the latest footage, Putin is purportedly in his office at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside of Moscow.

A place where he often holds such meetings, Putin is shown chatting with Lebedev about plans for reforming Russia's judicial system.

Putin was dressed in usual business attire and looked and acted normally.

The meeting with Lebedev has calmed speculation that Putin was not well, spawned by the postponement of a Putin March 12-13 visit to the Kazakh capital -- called off without any official explanation -- and a meeting in Moscow with a delegation from the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia that was also cancelled.

An unidentified Kazakh official had suggested that the meeting in Astana -- which would have included talks with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka -- was postponed because Putin was sick.

But Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has repeatedly denied the president is sick. He told the AP on March 12 that Putin's health was "really perfect" and joked that people who say he's not well are suffering themselves from "spring fever."

Although Putin's meeting with Lebedev was listed on the Kremlin website as having taken place on March 13, the Russian news agency RBK has reported that meetings the Kremlin said were held on March 8 and March 11 were actually recorded earlier on different days.

The Kremlin also announced on March 13 that Putin will hold talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Almazbek Atambaev, in St. Petersburg on March 16.

Putin's press service said the presidents will discuss bilateral ties and Kyrgyzstan's pending membership in the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EES).

But the cancellation of Putin's previous engagements sparked wild speculation on Russian social media sites about why Putin had been out of the public eye for so long.

The online rumors -- which included claims Putin had undergone some kind of surgery, had suffered a stroke, was involved in Kremlin clan feuds, or even that he was perhaps celebrating the birth of a new son or daughter -- fed into a feverish atmosphere in Russia stoked by the Ukraine conflict and the February 27 killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Russian stock markets have been unaffected by the rumors, and the ruble was mostly unchanged after the announcement of a 1 percent cut in the country's interest rate to 14 percent.

With reporting by TASS, RIA-Novosti, AP, and RBK
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