Putin’s constant coughing in New York sparks new rumors about his health

Questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s health erupted again over the New Year weekend after he appeared to cough frequently in a recent video.

Putin released his annual New Year’s address on Saturday, in which he called the ongoing war in Ukraine a “sacred duty” for the Russian people and a battle for Russian sovereignty. Some, however, noted parts of Putin’s speech in which he coughed several times in quick succession, raising the specter of his supposedly 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. Within 7 seconds, the Russian leader appears to be coughing three times as he continues to articulate his words.

“Coughing into his New York address,” Scarr wrote.

Responding to Scarr, Sam Sokol, a reporter for Hareetz.com, called 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 his speech, adding that he also seemed nervous.

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

Another Twitter user, by the name of Tiffany, delved into the potential health issues plaguing the Russian president. The user claimed that he likely has a progressive neurological condition and is trying to keep his muscles in check. The cough, the user added, may have been part of this attempt to keep the jitters at bay, which would also indicate how the condition is progressing.

“Whatever neurological issue he has is progressing,” the user wrote. “What he’s doing is trying to ‘shake’ his muscles under control. This is the first time I’ve seen him cough to do that, so it’s starting to affect his vocal cords and probably his respiratory system.”

Rumors about Putin’s allegedly failing health have been rife over the years, but have gained a new spotlight since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Ahead of the Russian leader’s New Year’s Eve speech, concerns were raised after the Kremlin announced that Putin’s year-end press conference was canceled for the first time in 10 years.

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

No official reason was given, but some outlets, including The sun, quoted sources as saying Putin’s failing health was becoming increasingly visible on camera. The Kremlin press secretary previously dismissed the rumors as hearsay.

“Ukrainian information specialists, in quotes, American and British, have thrown various ducks at the state of health of the president in recent months. They are just ducks,” said Dmitry Peskov, quoted by the newspaper in Russian line Gazeta. “Ducks” is a Russian euphemism for gossip.

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

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

Newsweek contacted Russian officials for comment.


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