One of Vladimir Putin's top ministers has denied that his boss is ill amid growing rumours he is suffering with cancer.
Speculation that the Russian president has cancer has increased among some political analysts and military experts in recent months, with some pointing to his bloated face as a sign of a worsening sickness.
Steroids are a common treatment for some cancers that can make the face appear bloated and puffy, which is said to explain noticeable changes in his appearance.
Those known to support the theory include a former British spy – who says Putin regularly takes breaks during his meetings to receive treatment – and even a top Russian oligarch.
But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov – one of the most senior figures in the Kremlin – has shot down the claims after saying there is no evidence to support them.
He told France's TF1 television channel: “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. I leave it to the conscience of those who spread such rumours despite daily opportunities to assess how anyone is looking.”
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The Daily Mirror reported last week how an unnamed Russian intelligence source claimed Putin had been given a terminal diagnosis — and is also beginning to go blind.
He said: “He has no more than two to three years to stay alive. We are told he is suffering from headaches and when he appears on TV he needs pieces of paper with everything written in huge letters to read what he’s going to say.
“They are so big each page can only hold a couple of sentences. His eyesight is seriously worsening.
Putin has been noticed twitching and moving uncontrollably in recent public appearances, such as his meeting with with Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi last week.
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