The tough Russian president has been missing for 10 days. And this means that the craziest, snarkiest rumors about Vladimir Putin's disappearance have cropped up.
Hushed whispers about his disappearance began on Wednesday, when it was announced that a summit in Astana, Kazakhstan, would be postponed. The reason? Putin would not be gracing the summit with his anticipated glorious presence. But it's OK, summits like these can be boring and we don't really blame him for not going.
But then a day later, Putin also did not attend a meeting at Federal Security Service – his alma mater. Now even that is understandable, given that college reunions are no less a traumatic experience that college itself.
But obviously, the rumor mill doesn't get this. And the two rumors about his disappearance right now?
Many believe that all the stress, the invasions, the presidency have taken a toll on Putin and he suffered a stroke. Russian officials, however, have insisted that Putin is still his bare-chested, horse-riding, healthy self.
His mouthpiece, Dmitry Peskov, maintains that Putin is alive and well, with a handshake still strong enough to "break hands." Ouch.
News of Putin's affair with a certain Alina Kabaeva has done the rounds ever since Putin announced his divorce with Lyudmila Putina in the most awkward way possible last year. Speculation is rife at this point and many believe a love child has been born unto Putin.
Well then, congratulations! But loyal Mr. Peskov has dispelled these rumors, too.
"The information on a baby born to Vladimir Putin is false," he was quoted as saying.
Russian officials are clearly not impressed with these rumors and have announced that they will "ask people who have money to organize a contest on the best media rumor."
Whatever the reason for disappearance might be, the news of it has caused Putin's popularity to hit an all-time high. If this is a publicity stunt, it's a great one.