Vladimir Putin: Russian President resurfaces with no explanation for absence

Video report by ITV News Europe Editor James Mates

Russian President Vladimir Putin resurfaced with no explanation for his disappearance from public life.

A smiling Putin laughed off speculation about his health saying "life would be boring without gossip" as he met the leader of Kyrgyzstan in St Petersburg.

His absence since March 5 had sparked rumours he was ill, been overthrown or even died.

Putin (R) talks to his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev. Credit: Reuters
Putin laughed off his absence from public life today. Credit: Reuters

His disappearance from public life came days after the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemstov near the Kremlin.

Edward Lucas, from The Economist Magazine, told ITV News that he believed Nemstov's killing and Putin's subsequent disappearance signalled a wider power struggle within the Kremlin.

"I think there's a real row about the circumstances of Nemstov's death - who organised it, who allowed it and what is happening with the investigation.

"We're seeing rivets popping inside the Kremlin in a way we haven't seen before."

Earlier, Putin ordered nearly 40,000 troops to be at combat readiness for huge military exercises.

His reappearance also coincided with the first anniversary of the annexation of Crimea.

In a documentary to mark the anniversary, Putin said he had put Russia's nuclear weapons on alert during the crisis.