The Kremlin acted to counter speculation about President Vladimir Putin’s longest absence from public view in more than two years by announcing a series of engagements for next week.
Putin will meet his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev in St. Petersburg on Monday and South Ossetian President Leonid Tibilov in Moscow on Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said by phone on Friday. The president will also attend a conference of Russian business leaders in Moscow on Thursday, Peskov said.
A photograph of Putin meeting the head of Russia’s Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev at the president’s residence outside Moscow also appeared on Friday on the Kremlin’s website, along with a transcript of their discussion. Russia’s NTV channel broadcast footage of Putin at the talks, which it said occurred on Friday. The court’s press secretary said the two men met on Friday, RBK newspaper reported on its website.
Putin, 62, who hasn’t made a public appearance since talks with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on March 5, canceled several public meetings at home this week and delayed a planned summit in Kazakhstan. His disappearance has sparked the most speculation about his health since he scrapped or postponed five foreign trips during more than a month in late 2012, as officials including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev repeatedly denied that he was ill or undergoing treatment for back pain.
Russian markets have remained unperturbed by the president’s absence from the public stage. Government bonds were little changed, with yields near their lowest in almost three weeks, and the ruble strengthened 0.2 percent to 61.07 at 2:21 p.m. in Moscow after the central bank cut the key rate by one percentage point to 14 percent on Friday. The Micex Index retreated 1 percent to 1,647.64, while the MosPrime overnight rate dropped to 14.79 percent, the lowest since Dec. 15.
Putin’s been having meetings “constantly because of the very tense situation economically and internationally,” Peskov said by phone on Thursday. The president’s “absolutely” in good health, Peskov told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
Peskov said that Putin’s meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko was postponed from this week by mutual agreement. The RIA Novosti news service cited Peskov on Thursday as saying the meeting may take place next week.
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