Russian film director Eldar Ryazanov has been hospitalized after suffering a suspected stroke, health officials said, though friends said they thought the move was more likely taken as a precaution.
Ryazanov was hospitalized at the Burdenko neurosurgery hospital on Monday after emergency operators received a call for an ambulance, a spokesperson for the city's health department told the Moskva city news site.
An unidentified family friend told the Interfax news agency that Ryazanov, who turned 87 this month, "simply fell unwell, nothing terrible happened," and that doctors decided to take him in a hospital as a precaution.
Ryazanov was "in an upbeat mood and even joked" on his way to the hospital, the friend was quoted as saying, citing the director's wife, Emma Abaidullina.
The Moscow health department spokesman said the preliminary diagnosis made by the ambulance team was an "ischemic stroke," which is when blood flow is restricted to the brain.
The unidentified friend told Interfax that "most likely there was no stroke," and that the family believes that Ryazanov is likely to be discharged within a few days.
Ryazanov is one of Russia's best-known film directors, famed for his comedies that combine sparkling wit with subtle irony and piercing social observations.
Many of his films — including those made decades ago in the Soviet era — remain tremendously popular in Russia, such as New Year comedy "The Irony of Fate," crime movie "The Incredible Adventures of Italians in Russia," and the ironic "Garazh."
Ryazanov's first major film, musical comedy "Carnival Night" became a top box office hit in the Soviet Union when it was released in 1956.