Putin seen in public for the first time since March 5

(AGI) Moscow, March 16 - Russian President Vladimir Putinappeared in public on Monday for the first time since March 5,when he received Italy's Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. Putinmade his 'return' in Strelna, near St. Petersburg, where he metwith Kyrgyzstan's President, Almbazbek Atambayev, in thehistoric Constantine Palace. Things "would be dull" withoutgossip, Putin quipped regarding the rumours that his absencewas due to the birth of a love child by his alleged girlfriendAlina Kabaeva. Putin's reapparance ran smoothly and seemedchoreographed down to the smallest detail, with the Russianpresident smiling broadly to the

(AGI) Moscow, March 16 - Russian President Vladimir Putinappeared in public on Monday for the first time since March 5,when he received Italy's Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. Putinmade his 'return' in Strelna, near St. Petersburg, where he metwith Kyrgyzstan's President, Almbazbek Atambayev, in thehistoric Constantine Palace. Things "would be dull" withoutgossip, Putin quipped regarding the rumours that his absencewas due to the birth of a love child by his alleged girlfriendAlina Kabaeva. Putin's reapparance ran smoothly and seemedchoreographed down to the smallest detail, with the Russianpresident smiling broadly to the cameras. Though the impressionwas that he was relaxed, he also looked unusually pale.Atambayev, for his part, reassured the press that the Russianleader was in quite good shape. "I'd like to add for the mediathat Mr Putin just drove me around the grounds [of the palace],and was at the wheel himself," he said. The two leaders thendiscussed the official topic of the meeting, Kyrgyzstan's"gradual entry" into the Eurasian Economic Union, joiningRussia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. The Kremlin's spokesman,Dmitry Peskov, offered sarcastic comments after the meeting."So everyone has now seen the paralyzed president captured by ageneral who has just returned from Switzerland where he wasdelivering a baby?" he asked, summarising the three mainrumours surrounding Putin's absence: illness, a military coup,and the birth of a son at a clinic in Switzerland. Peskov,speaking more seriously, said the Kremlin has grown tired ofrefuting the media's speculation. "The best proof of thepresident's health is this very meeting with PresidentAtambayev," he said, and refused to comment on the gossip anyfurther. (AGI). .