VLADIMIR Putin has missed his beloved annual ice hockey game as rumours continue to swirl regarding his health.
It is just the second time the Russian leader has missed the event at which he usually takes part in a gala match as part of the Night Hockey League National Festival in Sochi.
But this year while being expected to take part, he instead sent a video message despite currently being in the Black Sea resort .
The match usually involves top officials, security chiefs, oligarchs and celebrities.
“This was always a firm date in his diary. Something must be wrong for him to be a no-show,” a source said in Moscow.
And in his video message, Putin appeared to have mysterious dark blotches on his cheeks which were perhaps masked by makeup.
Rumours have swirled around the mad tyrant’s health over the last few months amid his brutal invasion of Ukraine.
His public appearances have raised eyebrows, such as appearing to shake uncontrollably during a meeting with Alexander Lukashenko.
Another video which triggered questions showed him appearing uncomfortable with trembling feet as he gripped a table.
And just this week, Putin appeared sitting beneath a heavy blanket at the Victory Day parade in Moscow.
Most read in US News
In May 2021, the Russian president boasted that ice hockey offered him longevity.
And he used his appearance to smooth over rumours about his health at the time.
“You extend your life, you make it of better quality and deeper meaning,” he boasted.
However, this year – with Putin aged 69 and turning 70 in October – new rumours are swirling over Putin’s supposed medical problems.
Russia’s invasion has also so far been disastrous, failing to make the expected lightning strike conquest of their neighbour and now bogged down in a protracted and grinding war in Ukraine.
It is estimated more than 26,000 Russian troops have been killed along with hundreds of aircraft and thousands of vehicles destroyed in battle.
Putin’s position looks increasingly weak alongside murmurs of his deteriorating health.
Among the health claims are thyroid and abdominal cancer, Parkinson’s disease and a schizoaffective disorder.
The Kremlin insists he is healthy, yet there is also speculation Putin is due to undergo surgery in the near future.
Another reason for Putin’s no show might have been security fears as paranoid Vlad is reportedly increasingly paranoid about a “palace coup”.
It coming two days after a 77-aircraft flypast was cancelled on Red Square amid claims he was concerned about an “aerial strike” at the annual parade.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov let it be known that the president would not take part in the 2022 ice hockey festival.
Instead in a video message Putin said: “I wish you good luck in your ice battles and all the best.
“And as they say: may the best win.”
Regional Kuban News had reported: “It had been expected that Vladimir Putin would also play for Legends of Hockey, but in early May, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitry Peskov, announced that the head of state would not take part in the game.
“It is only the second time in the history of the gala matches since 2012 that the President is missing this game.
Experts have pointed that Putin looks “”weakened” in recent public appearances and has even been seen a doctor who specialises in Thyroid cancer.
The report by investigative Proekt media – which is blocked in Russia – states that surgeon Yevgeny Selivanov, of Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital, had flown to the Russian leader no less than 35 times in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The discovery backs recent theories that Putin declared war when he was suffering medical problems hidden from the Russian people.
Back in November 2020, political analyst Valery Solovei revealed the cancer and Parkinson’s theory claiming that Putin also needed to have emergency surgery.
Video footage showed Putin’s leg moving constantly and his fingers twitching, backing the Parkinson’s theory.
Putin also suffered a coughing fit during a televised meeting but the claims about his health were disputed by Kremlin.
The report continues to identify medics who regularly travel with Putin on trips, especially in Sochi which he prefers to Moscow.
Alongside Selivanov the Russian leader is also followed by a neurosurgeon.
Another surgeon Dr Alexey Shcheglov “follows Putin so relentlessly that during public events he allegedly gets into joint photographs with the head of state.”
It is believed the Kremlin tightly controls Putin’s appearances – including even putting time limits on his meetings to try and maintain his strongman persona.
“In 2013, he held a symbolic face-off, and watched the match from the stands.”
At the time, this was also blamed on health issues.