Russia's Medvedev says Putin is in good health

MOSCOW Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:43pm GMT

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on general education at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, November 7, 2012. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti/Pool

Russia's President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on general education at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, November 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mikhail Klimentyev/Ria Novosti/Pool

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin is in good health and has no serious injury, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in remarks published on Tuesday.

Putin, who began a six-year term in May and turned 60 last month, was seen to be limping at an Asia-Pacific summit in early September and has carried himself stiffly at times since then.

Government sources told Reuters last month that Putin was suffering back trouble, but the Kremlin denied that and dismissed talk that he had postponed trips for medical reasons.

Medvedev, asked about Putin's health by Finnish media in an interview ahead of trip to Finland, initially responded by saying: "I'm not a doctor."

Asked again, he said: "Listen, every person has a right to take care of his health," and added that presidents and prime ministers had to exercise to stay in shape.

"And President Putin, too, has to do a lot of sports to be fit. But he is alive and well and, thank God, everything is fine with him," Medvedev said, according to a Russian government transcript.

Asked whether that meant Putin had no serious injuries, Medvedev said: "Nothing serious. And everyone has some little things they need to take care of."

Putin's spokesman said last month that the limp in September had been caused by a sports injury. He said Putin did not have a back problem and did not plan to take time off.

Medvedev's comments, which came just before the end of the interview, were included in a transcript posted on the Russian government website but were left out of a broadcast of the interview on state-run Rossiya-24 television late on Tuesday.

Putin has long cultivated a tough-guy image that would not sit well with a serious health problem.

His formal role as head of state and his position at the pinnacle of power in Russia, where his blessing is seen as indispensable for everything from legislation to oil deals, makes any illness or medical treatment highly sensitive.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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