World Bulletin / News Desk
A summit of leaders of ex-Soviet states scheduled for the start of November has been postponed, an official said on Friday, amid talk that Russian President Vladimir Putin is suffering from back trouble.
The Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose group created as the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, said earlier this month the summit was due to take place in Turkmenistan on Nov. 2.
"The (new) dates are being confirmed. They are being agreed with all the presidents," said CIS spokeswoman Vera Yakubovskaya. She declined to give any reason for the postponement.
The Kremlin dismissed talk that Putin had been sidelined from foreign trips after government sources told Reuters he was suffering from back trouble that could require surgery.
The sources said the Russian leader's schedule was being cleared for early November, including the postponement until late December of a trip to India that had been expected soon.
Putin, a judo black belt who is known for stunts that show off his physical prowess throughout his almost 13 years in power, was first seen limping in September when he hosted an Asia-Pacific summit in Russia's Far East.
Putin's spokesman said at the time his boss had pulled a leg muscle.
A recent documentary showed him swimming long distances, working out in a gym and eating raw quail eggs and cream cheese for breakfast.
The former KGB officer could rule Russia until May 2024, according to the constitution.
"LIFE BRINGS CHANGES"
Speculation increased when Putin failed to travel to Pakistan for a four-nation summit on Afghanistan this month or to make an expected trip to Turkey. None of these trips had been officially announced by the Kremlin.
"Many dates which the media reported as fixed were in fact not fixed. Life brings changes and it concerns plans for visits. A lot of information has been misinterpreted by the media," Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told reporters.
On Friday Putin sent a video message to participants of a Congress of Compatriots in St. Petersburg, attended by Russians who live abroad.
Putin, who turned 60 this month, made ties with neighbouring ex-Soviet states his priority when he returned to the Kremlin in May for a third presidential term.
A decree issued hours after his swearing-in called for closer integration of the ex-Soviet space a "key foreign policy direction" and reiterated plans for a Eurasian Economic Union, based on a Customs Union with Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Putin hosted CIS leaders in the Kremlin a week after his inauguration, making it the first major international event of his new term in office. He travelled to ex-Soviet Belarus before going to Europe.
Countries including Slovakia and the Czech Republic are not prepared to join the call to impose sanctions on Russia over Ukraine.
Tehran says will share information about citizens who boarded flight with stolen passports
The French government rejects the opposition MPs' claims that executive authorities, especially the presidency, were informed of the wiretapping of former President Nicolas Sarkozy and his lawyer, Thierry Herzog.
The speaker of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People said the body remained opposed to the secession initiative but saw the parliament’s move as a positive step.
Lawyer for former military dictator Musharraf, on trial for treason, ordered removed from court for 'misbehaving'
The women were taken after soldiers without insignia spotted a pro-Maidan tattoo on one of the women's hands at a checkpoint.
Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, now the Navy's top cyber warrior, was cautious during often terse exchanges at a Senate hearing on his confirmation
Kerry and Lavrov "exchanged opinions about concrete proposals by Russia and the United States to ensure civil peace and concord" in Ukraine, the ministry said
Comments were the latest salvo in a long-running and bitter dispute between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA over documents outlining the agency's handling of the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects
Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on Tuesday lost a confidence vote in parliament and will be replaced temporarily by the defence minister, parliament's spokesman Omar Hmeidan said.
Bomb attacks have increased since last year, raising concern about further instability in the Western-allied kingdom
In recent weeks a string of leaders have compared Modi's rise to the emergence of fascism in Europe.
Pistorius is facing separate gun charges for the two incidents, part of the prosecution's attempts to paint him as a cocky, gun-obsessed hot-head who does not like to take responsibility for his actions
Tusk said the European Union would impose sanctions on Russia starting on Monday over its military intervention in Ukraine's Crimea region
A Ukrainian airline plane was turned back on its way from Kiev to Simferopol, the region's main city, and had to return to the Ukrainian capital.
The United States says both the air drills in Poland and its joint naval exercises in the Black Sea were planned before the crisis in Ukraine