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MOSCOW—Russians have been gossiping about Vladimir Putin’s health from the very start of the pandemic—and the Kremlin has always dismissed the flood of rumors as “absolute nonsense.” But on Tuesday, Putin announced that he will be self-isolating due to several COVID-19 infections within his inner circle.

The announcement—made by the Russian leader in a phone conversation with his Tajik counterpart, according to a Kremlin readout—came after the typically stone-faced Putin struck a different tone Monday as he admitted that the latest COVID-19 surge is threatening his own inner “circle,” and that he may have to quarantine as a result.

In a video meeting with government officials later Tuesday, Putin said a staffer with whom he had worked quite closely was sick with the virus, and that the encroaching coronavirus cases would be a good test for how effective Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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