Putin video attempts to quash health rumours

Russian state television aired what it said was footage of President Vladimir Putin working at his residence outside Moscow yesterday, a first appearance since he dropped out of sight days ago, triggering rumours he was ill or sidelined by internal conflict.

In the footage, Putin was shown in his office at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence, where he conducts many of his meetings, sitting across a table from Supreme Court head Vyacheslav Lebedev and talking about plans to reform the judicial system.

Dressed in grey suit and a blue patterned tie, he looked in no way different from usual. In the brief footage, he was shown nodding and smiling as Lebedev spoke and could be heard saying a few words about the court system.

A visit by Putin to the Kazakh capital, which was to have taken plan this week, was cancelled with no official explanation, while a meeting in Moscow with a delegation from the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia was also called off.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin, 62, was in good health and was working as usual.

The cancellation of engagements had sparked feverish speculation in Russia.

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