Russian envoy to Israel dismisses reports Putin is ill: ‘Don’t hold your breath’

Anatoly Viktorov insists president is well enough ‘to continue his important work for the country’; denies any war crimes in Ukraine

Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov speaks to the media at the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)
Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov speaks to the media at the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni‎‏/Flash90)

Russia’s ambassador to Israel on Sunday downplayed recent reports alleging President Vladimir Putin is in ill health.

Speaking to Channel 13, Anatoly Viktorov said: “Don’t hold your breath for it.”

Viktorov added: “I can say he appears on TV every day. His health allows him to continue his important work for the country.”

Newsweek reported Thursday that Putin underwent treatment for advanced cancer in April and survived an assassination attempt in March.

The report, citing US intelligence officials, warned against jumping to any conclusions or predicting Putin’s demise.

Putin has appeared frail during some public appearances in recent months.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in a video call with heads of states that are members of the Eurasian Economic Forum in Bishkek via videoconference in Moscow, Russia, May 26, 2022. (Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed any rumors of Putin being ill.

Viktorov was also questioned on growing allegations of war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine. He denied this outright, saying: “There are no mass graves, there are no war crimes and no war crimes were committed.”

He added that he felt “humiliated” to be asked to respond to Ukrainian claims of genocide “because it is no more than a media campaign.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reached its 100th day on Friday with Russian forces hammering the Donbas region in their push to capture the country’s east.

Russia’s invasion of its neighbor has killed thousands and forced millions to flee, with Ukraine’s east bearing the brunt of the assault.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Kyiv’s forces are losing up to 100 soldiers per day.

AFP contributed to this report.

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