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.
Environment minister says target reached before deadline, but extra 30 to 50 percent cut needed for significant improvement
A suicide attack targeting a senior Afghan election commission official has killed one guard and injured several others in capital Kabul Saturday. Hawliya Rodwal, Kabul provincial director of the commission, escaped the blast unhurt.
The military has confirmed that an Indonesian ‘expert bomb-maker’ was found among 8 fighters killed in firefight earlier this week
Weapons makers bid to supply new submarines to Australia, after Japan lifts ban that prohibited weapons sales in line with post-WWII pacifistic constitution
Week of Peace events in troubled Philippines south aim to bring different religious communities together, heal rifts of recent years
Police say muezzin has been killed and three worshippers wounded in the shooting, a rare attack on minority Shiite Muslims
Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau says pollutants emitted by vehicles in city will be cut by as much as 30 percent by 2022
Provoking anger and amusement, Taiwanese flag appeared alongside in ISIL propaganda video released listed Taiwan as one of Washington's 'close counterterrorism partners' in Asia-Pacific
China calls for peace and stability after Japan, US agree to continue drills in disputed sea
Minister says violence not the answer as police hunt continues for ISIL militants in mountains of Indonesia's north
Haroon Bhatti, founding member of outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group, was arrested in Dubai last month and brought back to Pakistan
Muslims in Myanmar have been banned from printing their own calendars, with senior Buddhist monks imploring for stricter sentencing on the publisher and his associates.
PM Abe says Japan to pledge $10.6 billion for climate policies in developing countries
'Tragic but avoidable accident (was) caused primarily by human error,' General John Campbell says
Japanese, US officials decide to hold joint exercises in contested sea amid China's maritime expansion
'Seven people - six pilgrims and the lady pilot - died in the crash,' a police official says