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Russia’s leaders battered by ‘sports injuries’

Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) – First, Russian President Vladimir Putin begins to hobble because of what the Kremlin describes as a sports injury. Then, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shows up with a bandaged left wrist, again the result of a sports injury.

Russia’s leaders are an athletic bunch, or at least want to be seen as such.

Putin’s spokesman says the 60-year-old president pulled a muscle while practicing judo, but the lack of details about his medical condition and his evident discomfort for much of the past three months has raised questions about the state of his health.

Even less information has been released about Lavrov, who arrived at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday with his left hand and wrist wrapped in white gauze. He also had scrapes down the center of his nose and lips.

The Foreign Ministry would say only that it was a “minor sports injury.”

A friend of Lavrov’s said the foreign minister has been telling people close to him that he was injured several days ago while playing soccer on an ice hockey rink that had no ice. The game was being played on concrete, and Lavrov took a tumble, said the friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he felt it would be betraying a confidence.

Lavrov, 62, is known to play soccer and to be an ardent fan of the Moscow club Spartak.

On Monday, however, the foreign minister was with Putin on an official visit to Turkey and his hand was not bandaged.

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