Putin’s constant coughing in NYE speech spurs more rumors about his health

Questions about the health of Russian President Vladimir Putin have flared up again over the New Year’s weekend after he appeared to be coughing frequently in a recent video.

Putin released his annual New Year’s speech on Saturday, in which he called the ongoing war in Ukraine a “sacred duty” for the Russian people and a struggle for Russia’s sovereignty. However, some wrote down parts of Putin’s speech in which he coughed several times in rapid succession, raising the specter of his allegedly failing health.

Francis Scarr, a BBC reporter covering state media in Russia, was among the first to share a clip of Putin from the address on Twitter. Over the course of 7 seconds, the Russian leader appears to cough three times while continuing to shoot through his words.

“Cough away at his New York address,” Scarr wrote.

Hareetz.com reporter Sam Sokol responded to Scarr, calling Putin “the sick man of Europe.”

Julia Davis, creator of the Russian Media Monitor and columnist for The Daily Beast, also noted Putin’s pronounced cough during the address, adding that he also seemed nervous.

“The nervous, coughing Putin complained about sanctions in his depressing New Year’s address to the Russian people,” Davis tweeted.

Another Twitter user, dubbed Tiffany, delved deeper into the potential health issues plaguing the Russian president. The user claimed that he was probably suffering from a progressive neurological problem and was trying to keep his muscles under control. The cough, the user added, may have been part of this attempt to keep nervousness at bay, which would also indicate how the condition is evolving.

“Whatever neurological problem he has, it’s progressing,” the user wrote. “He’s trying to get his muscles under control again. This is the first time I’ve seen him cough for it, so it’s starting to affect his vocal cords and probably his respiratory system.”

Rumors of Putin’s supposedly ailing health have abounded over the years, but have come under the spotlight since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in late February. Concerns were raised ahead of the Russian leader’s New Year’s Eve speech after the Kremlin announced that Putin’s year-end press conference would be canceled for the first time in 10 years.

Putin health concerns cough
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an event in the summer of 2020. Putin’s recent New Year’s Eve speech sparked fresh speculation about his health as he appeared nervous and coughed frequently.
Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

No official reason has been given, but some outlets, including The sun, quoted sources as saying that Putin’s poor health is becoming increasingly apparent on camera. The Kremlin’s press secretary had previously dismissed such rumors as hearsay.

“Ukrainian information specialists, in quotes, both American and British, have thrown various ducks over the president’s health in recent months. They’re nothing but ducks,” said Dmitry Peskov, as quoted by Russia’s online newspaper Gazeta. “Ducks” is a Russian euphemism for gossip.

In addition, last May Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov tried to dispel rumors surrounding Putin’s health.

“President Vladimir Putin appears in public every day,” he said in an interview with French television. “You can see him on screens, read and listen to his performances. I don’t think sane people can spot signs of illness or ill health.”

news week turned to Russian officials for comment.

https://www.newsweek.com/putins-constant-coughing-nye-address-spurs-more-rumors-about-his-health-1770637 Putin’s constant coughing in NYE speech spurs more rumors about his health

Rick Schindler

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