Putin health scare after TV coughing fit as Kremlin says leader is 'normal'

The Kremlin has been forced to deny that Vladimir Putin has health problems because he coughed repeatedly during an online television conference about Covid-19.

The Russian leader’s coughing fit was later tweaked to appear less acute in a version posted by his office.

Putin warned of “acute financial problems” in regions as a result of Covid-19 when he suddenly struggled to keep speaking.

He spoke to his Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and other senior officials when the coughing fit started.

Putin said, “Excuse me,” and repeatedly raised his right hand to his mouth as he struggled to move on.

The version of the president’s comments later posted on the Kremlin’s website edited the worst of his cough, including when he said, “Excuse me.”

The scare came on Wednesday when Russia announced a record 456 daily coronavirus deaths.

State news agency TASS asked the Kremlin about Putin’s health and was told he was “absolutely normal”.

“The president apologized and continued the meeting with almost no pause,” TASS reported.

Radio Mayak, which had broadcast an original stream, reported, “Putin’s vocal cords gave in when he set up his government to fight Covid19.”

Putin health scare after TV coughing fit as Kremlin says leader is 'normal'

Unlike other world leaders and many Russian officials, Putin is believed to have avoided Covid-19 so far.

Despite Russia having two vaccines available – one tested by his daughter Katerina, 34 – he has not been injected so far, it is understood.

He has remained largely isolated in recent months after a shock in April when he came into contact with infected doctors in a clinic in Moscow.

Putin told the hour and a half meeting that the coronavirus situation remains “critical” in many regions and called on his finance minister to provide assistance.

Earlier, he said, “The number of new cases is on the rise … and most alarmingly – the death rate is on the rise.”

There are fears that Russia has downplayed the actual toll and that actual infection and death rates are significantly higher.