Russia has angrily dismissed rumours that Vladimir Putin has cancer, telling the speculative media to "dream on."
Putin's spokesman on Wednesday slammed US media reports on the 62-year-old Russian leader, insisting he was in perfectly fine health and warning that journalists should "shut their trap".
Responding to the allegations of ill-health, Dmitry Peskov told reporters "they shouldn't bank on it. They should shut their trap. Everything's okay," according to RIA Novosti news agency.
The New York Post on Friday cited "sources" as saying Putin was suffering from pancreatic cancer - one of the deadliest forms of the disease.
The article, headlined "Putin's Health Woes" also cited an unnamed elderly German doctor who claimed the Russian President and martial arts pro had cancer of the spinal cord.
The Post's Richard Johnson wrote: "The doc had been trying various treatments, including steroid shots, which would explain Putin's puffy appearance.
"But I'm told the physician quit recently, confiding that he was mistreated by Putin's security detail," he added.
It's not the first time Putin has faced rumours of ill-health over the past few years, with some reports suggesting he appeared to be in pain at times during public appearances.
His face also sometimes looks swollen, prompting rumours he could be on steroid medication, or trying cosmetic treatments.
Peskov's furious response to journalists over Putin's health prove, AFP reported, that the former KGB agent's image as an action-man is "crucial in a country where he is already old enough to claim a state pension" - particularly at a time when he faces political isolation from the West.