- President Putin acknowledged rumors about his health at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum.
- Putin paraphrased a popular Mark Twain misquote: “The rumors about my death were greatly exaggerated.”
- There has been intense speculation since Russia invaded Ukraine portraying him as gravely ill.
Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to address ongoing rumors about his health while speaking at an economic forum in St Petersburg on Friday.
‘Like Mark Twain once said: “The rumors about my death were greatly exaggerated,” the Russian leader said during a Q&A, per The Guardian.
Putin was paraphrasing a popular misquote attributed to American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, known by his pen name Mark Twain, in which he responded to newspaper reports of his death.
Rumors have swirled about the Russian president’s alleged ill-health for years, but speculation has intensified since Russia invaded Ukraine.
A Russian investigative outlet recently claimed that Putin had been visited by cancer doctors dozens of times. Other claims about his health have been made by an unidentified Russian oligarch, a former British spy, and Ukrainian officials.
Several videos also circulated on social media that appeared to show the Russian leader’s foot uncontrollably twitching and him looking uncomfortable while gripping the edge of a table.
The reports prompted much tabloid speculation, including suggestions that his face has recently appeared bloated due to taking steroids.
However, several Western officials have cast doubt on the theory that Putin is unwell.
Three US intelligence and military experts recently told Insider’s John Haltiwanger and Mattathias Schwartz that there was a lack of credible evidence to back up the rumors.
Putin’s speech on Friday comes nearly four months after Russia began its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
In his speech, the Russian leader slammed economic sanctions imposed on Russia, and said the US was acting like “God’s emissary on Earth.”
He also claimed baselessly that his decision to invade was “forced” due to “increasing risks” “threats.”