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Zelenskyy blames Russian hackers for ‘fake news’ report that he is ill

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks during a virtual address to U.S. members of Congress, March 16, 2022. (Video screenshot)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has reassured his country’s citizens that he is well after what he said was a fake news report about his health distributed by Russian hackers.

Zelenskiy, 44, made his remarks on July 21 in a video posted to Instagram from his office.

The post appeared just hours after the Kremlin denied rumors that Russian President Vladimir Putin was suffering from health problems and after a Ukrainian media company said hackers had broadcast a false report about Zelenskiy’s health on one of its radio stations following a cyberattack.

“Cybercriminals spread information that the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is allegedly in intensive care, and his duties are being performed by the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament), Ruslan Stefanchuk,” TAVR Media said on Facebook.

TAVR Media said the information about the health of Zelenskiy was not true. There has been no claim of responsibility for the cyberattack.

Zelenskiy called it “more fake news” put out by the Russians to imply that he is not in control of Ukraine.

“So, here I am in my office, and I have never felt as good as now,” he said. “And the bad news for those behind such fakes is that I am not alone. There are 40 million (Ukrainians).”

In an apparent dig at 69-year-old Putin’s age, he said: “And with all due respect to old age, 44 is not (almost) 70.”

The Kremlin reacted earlier to media speculation about Putin’s health, dismissing the rumors as “nothing but fakes.”

Speaking to reporters in Moscow on July 21, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the 69-year-old Russian leader is fine, adding that a bout of coughing during a public appearance a day earlier was due to a simple cold he caught during a trip to Iran earlier this week that was caused by intensive indoor air-conditioning.

Despite reports in recent months claiming that Putin has cancer, Parkinson’s disease, or both, there is no evidence that he is ill and the Kremlin has repeatedly stated that the Russian leader is in good health.

On July 20, answering a question at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado about Putin’s health, CIA Director William Burns quipped that Putin is “entirely too healthy.”