Russian President Vladimir Putin reappeared in public after an 11-day absence that had sent the media into a frenzy of speculation.
Putin said the various reports and theories on the reason for his absence – ranging from birth of his alleged fifth child, through palace coup and on to death – were just "rumours".
“It’d be boring if there weren’t rumours,” Putin said wryly, without explaining where he had been.
Putin flew from Moscow to St Petersburg on the morning of March 16 and appeared in front of the cameras before meeting Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.
Putin appeared in rude health and jolly spirits, nixing the theories that he had undergone more plastic surgery – he is believed to have received Botox injections – or had thrown his back out again. He hurt his back during a minor crash in a microlight last year.
Atambayev said that Putin was not just on his feet, but also “hot-rodding behind the wheel”. “[Russian President] Vladimir Vladimirovich just drove me around the territory. That’s just so there’s no rumours,” Atambayev was quoted as saying by the Russian state-owned Sputnik newswire.
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