Lavrov Denies Putin’s Illness

Lavrov Denies Putin’s Illness
Lavrov Denies Putin’s Illness

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denied speculation that President Vladimir Putin is ill.

In an interview with French TV, Lavrov said the Russian leader appears in public every day, and no sane person would see any signs of an ailment, the BBC said on Monday.

There has been increasing unconfirmed media speculation that Putin, who turns 70 this year, may be suffering from ill health, possibly cancer.

The interview came as Russia continues its advance in Ukraine's Donbas region.

Lavrov said the "liberation" of the eastern region was an "unconditional priority" for Russia. He repeated the Kremlin's widely discredited line that Russia is fighting a "neo-Nazi regime".

Noting that President Putin regularly appeared in public, Lavrov told TF1: "I don't think that sane people can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment."

"You can watch him on screens, read and listen to his speeches," he said in comments released by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"I leave it to the conscience of those who spread such rumors despite daily opportunities to assess how anyone is looking."

British intelligence sources were quoted telling media outlets that Putin was seriously ill last week. However, rumors about the condition of the Russian leader, long known for his healthy lifestyle and love of sport, have surfaced periodically for years.

Asked about the human cost of the fighting, which has seen devastating artillery and rocket attacks on some urban areas, the foreign minister insisted Russian soldiers were "under strict orders categorically to avoid attacks and strikes on civilian infrastructure".

Since Russia invaded on 24 February, at least 4,031 civilians have been killed and 4,735 injured, according to the UN, and an unknown number of combatants have died or been wounded. More than 14 million people have fled their homes, with towns and cities reduced to rubble.

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