Russian President Vladimir Putin has appeared in public for the first time since 5 March. The 62-year-old met Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev at the Constantine Palace, outside St Petersburg, on Monday. The Russian leader was last seen in public when he hosted Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The Kremlin claimed he had officially held meetings since 5 March and released photos and videos of him on national television, but Russian media reported the images had been taken much earlier.
It would be boring without the gossip.
Vladimir Putin comments on the rumours about his ill health
Last week, he postponed a trip to Kazakhstan fuelling speculation that he was unwell. His long absence from the public eye unleashed a frenzy of speculation, including that the Russian leader has once again become a father, has been deposed in a palace coup, fallen ill, had cosmetic surgery, or had died. Morbid jokes and gags spread like wildfire on Russian social networks – the last bastion of free speech in Russia – and the hashtag #Putinumer (#Putindead) trended on Twitter.