The Kremlin denied Friday that President Vladimir Putin had undergone surgery for thyroid cancer after an investigative report raised suspicion over a presidential hospital surgeon’s frequent visits to his Black Sea residence.
The report said a large group of doctors including a thyroid cancer surgeon had accompanied Putin on his trips to his residence in the resort city of Sochi from 2016-2019.
The Russian investigative outlet Proekt matched the dates of Putin’s official visits to Sochi or unexplained disappearances from public view with local hotel accommodation contracts published on the government procurement website to make the connection. An average of five doctors had accompanied Putin in 2016-17 and nine doctors in 2019, it said.
“Over the course of Putin’s 23-year rule, the country doesn’t know a word of truth about the physical and emotional condition of the person ruling over it,” Proekt editor-in-chief Roman Badanin said in a video.
“We can affirm that by his current presidential term, the Russian leader is not in good health,” Badanin said.
According to Proekt’s investigation, a group of presidential hospital doctors, nurses and senior executives “may have performed surgery” on Putin in November 2016. At least two members of this group were later reportedly awarded and promoted.
Proekt reported that a “reinforced group” of presidential hospital neurosurgeons and other staff joined Putin to treat “a likely relapse of his trauma” in late November 2019.
“A serious manipulation is performed on a man with the nuclear button while we’re told he’s healthy,” Badanin said.
Proekt said the records showed a surgeon specializing in thyroid cancer had spent 166 days in Sochi between 2016 and 2019. This was the longest period spent there by a presidential hospital doctor with the exception of an ear, nose and throat doctor whose visits totaled 282 days.
Proekt’s report did not directly state whether Putin was diagnosed with cancer or any other illness.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the report suggesting Putin, 69, had undergone surgeries for thyroid cancer.
“Fiction and untruth,” Peskov was quoted as saying by veteran journalist Alexei Venediktov on his Telegram messaging app channel.
“Am I understanding correctly that Vladimir Putin doesn’t have cancer?” Venediktov followed up.
“Correct,” Peskov responded.