By Denis Dyomkin STRELNA, Russia (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin reappeared on Monday after 10 unexplained days out of public view, laughing off the "gossip" over his health that had erupted during his absence. The 62-year-old leader met the president of Kyrgyzstan at a lavish Tsarist-era palace outside St Petersburg in his first appearance since Feb. 5. His absence had fueled rumors he was ill, had been overthrown by the army or had even flown abroad to attend the birth of a love child. "It would be boring without gossip," Putin said, smiling easily before television cameras. He looked relaxed, if pale. His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, mocked the press for its interest, referring sarcastically to the various rumors: "So you've seen the broken, paralyzed president, who has been captured by generals? He's only just flown in from Switzerland, where he attended a birth as you know." In a choreographed double-act, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev vouched for the Russian leader's health, saying that Putin "just now drove me around the grounds; he himself sat at the wheel." Putin's return to public view coincided with Russia's biggest military exercises since ties with the West sank to a post-Cold War low over the Ukraine crisis. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Putin had ordered nearly 40,000 troops to be at combat readiness for exercises in Russia's Arctic North and elsewhere, which appeared meant to dwarf war games in neighboring NATO-member Norway. MACHO IMAGE The Russian leader prides himself on his macho image. In 2008 he said he worked like a "galley slave" to run Russia. Typically, he is shown most days on state-controlled television, meeting officials in Moscow or traveling to Russia's far-flung regions. During his absence, the Kremlin unexpectedly canceled a trip to Kazakhstan and a high profile meeting with officers of the main successor agency to the KGB. Pictures were posted on the Kremlin website of meetings Putin had with public figures, which, it later emerged, had been taken several days earlier. The absence began a week after an opposition leader was shot dead near the Kremlin walls, adding to an ominous atmosphere in a country suffering from an economic crisis worsened by international sanctions imposed over Putin's decision to intervene in neighboring Ukraine. Throughout his absence Russian officials had said that Putin had been working. Peskov said he had answered "10 times over" what Putin was doing during his absence. "It is impossible to say anymore," he said. Putin remains hugely popular in Russia, which has experienced a surge of nationalist and anti-American sentiment fueled by state-run media since Putin sent troops to seize Ukraine's Crimea peninsula a year ago. The military exercises are due to last for much of the week, during which Russia will celebrate the anniversary of its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, carried out with the help of special forces in the weeks after a pro-Moscow leader was toppled in Kiev. Since then, a swathe of eastern Ukraine that Putin calls "New Russia" has also tried to secede, leading to war in which 6,000 people have been killed. NATO says thousands of Russian troops are fighting there on behalf of pro-Russian rebels, which Moscow denies. Russia has repeatedly staged high-profile war games at pivotal moments during the Ukraine conflict. Despite the economic crisis brought on by low prices for its energy exports as well as Western sanctions, Putin has promised to spend more than 21 trillion rubles ($335 billion) to revamp the military by the end of the decade. (Story corrects date of previous appearance to March 5 from Feb 5 in paragraph 2) (Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly, Writing by Elizabeth Piper and Thomas Grove, Editing by Peter Graff)
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
Looks like someone understood the assignment!
Kylie Jenner just won Leo season.
- Entertainment Weekly
The show's shop manager broke her silence after History Channel confirmed the longtime cohost wouldn't be returning.
The Keeping Up with the Kardashians alum put her most famous asset on display in new Instagram photos
- In The Know
Being a teacher is hard enough as it is.
Best of both worlds.
- In The Know
Woman slams auto shop after employee allegedly kicked her out over her 'inappropriate' top: 'I didn't think it mattered'
A TikToker is accusing a car inspection station of asking her to wait outside because her shirt was "too inappropriate."
- The Daily Beast
NCISA 20-year-old sailor with a grudge against the U.S. Navy and a failed attempt at becoming a Navy SEAL under his belt is accused of setting an amphibious assault ship ablaze and singlehandedly costing the Navy $30 million in damage.According to an NCIS search warrant affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast, Ryan Sawyer Mays aroused the suspicions of investigators almost immediately after the 40,000-ton USS Bonhomme Richard went up in flames on July 12, 2020, burning for nearly five days and lea
Bill is worth $130 billion, just FYI.
Go Inside Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo's 'Perfect Sanctuary' Home: 'We Didn't Want a Palatial McMansion'
Adam Levine says the home he and wife Behati Prinsloo bought from Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner for $32 million in 2019 is "a genuine unicorn"
- Miami Herald
“It’s purely political at its core.”
- In The Know
Woman allegedly catches her neighbor's disturbing behavior outside her window: 'Pretty sure this is illegal'
She said this is why she keeps her curtains closed.
- NBC Sports EDGE
Aaron Robinson takes a look at the biggest winners and losers after the first 24 hours of NBA free agency. What team's have made the biggest splash? (Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports)
- Hoops Hype
The Los Angeles Lakers always generate a ton of headlines but this year, that has happened even more as they have added several big names.
- The Daily Beast
Chip Somodevilla/GettyThe prophecy failed in December, in January, and in March. Twice.But now, claim conspiratorial fans of Donald Trump, the fabled month is finally upon us. In August, some of the most fringe voices in the ex-president’s sprawling universe of followers and adjacent conspiracists still seem to think Trump will be reinstated.That is, if the conspiracy theory’s author doesn’t reschedule again.When Trump lost re-election in November, he and some of his more stalwart supporters ins
- ProFootball Talk on NBC Sports
Before training camp got started, a schism was emerging among members of the Buffalo Bills over the issue of the COVID vaccine. At one point, receiver Cole Beasley and defensive end Jerry Hughes squared off on social media. Beasley argued against the vaccine, Hughes argued in favor of it. Peter King explained in his Football [more]
It’s definitely not something we think about often, but we’d be lying if we said the royal family members ’ heights haven’t crossed our mind...
Online creator Chris Chan arrested on incest charge after leaked audio alleged she had sex with her mother
Christine Weston Chandler, known online as Chris Chan, was arrested on a charge of incest on Sunday after a leaked call spread online.
- NBC Sports Chicago
Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are in the door. Tom Satoransk, Garrett Temple and Daniel Theis are out. The Bulls got busy on Day 1 of free agency.
John Corbett and Bo Derek have been dating since 2002 and were previously open about their decision not to get married