The reports of Sergei Lavrov’s death are greatly exaggerated.
Well, maybe there haven’t been any of those, but there is a great deal of reporting this morning that Lavrov, the 72-year-old Russian foreign minister, had been taken to hospital in Bali due to a “heart condition”, after landing in Indonesia for the G20 summit.
Health problems? Or something altogether more sinister? After all, some reports put Vladimir Putin’s absence from the summit down to his fear of assassination following the retreat from Kherson.
But no, quite the opposite in fact – at least according to Moscow.
The Russian foreign ministry declared that reports of Lavrov’s hospitalisation were “fake news”, sharing a video of the minister sitting on his patio in Bali, ironically kitted out in a Basquiat t-shirt, wielding an iPhone and an Apple watch, all of which are bastions of Russian exceptionalism.
In the video, Lavrov can be seen telling the camera that reports about his health are a “political game”.
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“Western journalists need to be more truthful – they need to write the truth,” Lavrov added.
Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said the reports were “the height of fakery”.
This morning, The Associated Press first reported that Lavrov had been taken to hospital, with the Governor of Bali, I Wayan Koster, later telling Reuters that Lavrov had visited Sanglah Hospital for a check-up.
“He was in good health and after the check-up he immediately left,” Koster said. The truth may well hinge on the difference between “going to hospital” and “being hospitalised”.
Despite Lavrov’s strong denial, a health check-up might not be the worst idea for Lavrov, before he enters the lion’s den on behalf of Putin tomorrow.
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