Putin cancels visit to Kazakhstan: Russian President Vladimir Putin has canceled a visit to Astana to see his close ally and fellow founding father of the Eurasian Economic Union Nursultan Nazarbayev that had been planned for later on in the week. “The visit has been cancelled. It looks like he (Putin) has fallen ill,” unnamed official in the Kazakh government said today. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenk was also due in Kazakhstan on Friday, but it is unclear if he would still go. Last October, Putin’s spokesman on Wednesday ridiculed reports in the New York Post that the Russian President was suffering from pancreatic cancer, telling journalists to “dream on” and to “shut their trap”. Even if the claim proves to be entirely false, the vehemence of the denial illustrates how important Putin’s “strong man” image is to his political persona.
Putin braces himself during a summit in September 2014