Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Thursday tried to stamp out speculation about an apparent bruise under his boss' left eye, attributing the dark spot to Putin's difficult schedule.
Russian and Ukrainian reporters attending Putin's meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on Wednesday said Putin had heavy makeup over what was clearly a black mark across his left cheekbone.
"The journalists are wrong — it was probably just the lighting. But it's true that the prime minister is tired. Lately he has been working a great deal and is constantly on the road," Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told Gazeta.ru.
Putin was unusually glum at a press conference Wednesday evening, and neither he nor Azarov took questions from reporters, TNC.ua reported. Putin also skipped a planned dinner with Azarov.
Kommersant reporter Andrei Kolesnikov described the discoloration as "distinguished" and speculated that Putin — a former judo champion — might have received it in some form of "rough sparring."