Breaking news out of Russia: Vladimir Putin pulled a muscle. But the Kremlin insists it didn't happen while flying with birds. Putin, as you'll remember, took to the skies last month, leading a flock of endangered Siberian cranes to their winter feeding grounds. Rumors about the president's health have been gaining ground since, due to the fact that he postponed trips abroad and hadn't left home much lately, reports the BBC and AP. Then came a report today from the respected Vedomosti newspaper that cited anonymous sources who said the flight caused fresh harm to an old injury. Not exactly, countered the Kremlin.
"It's a common sports injury—Vladimir Putin pulled a muscle," his rep said, without elaborating further on that injury. But the rep did give a quirky explanation for the president's recent home-bound ways: Putin apparently hasn't wanted to leave his country home these last two weeks because he didn't want his motorcade to cause traffic jams upon entry in Moscow. In more contentious Russian news, NPR reports that Putin is expected to sign a new bill that widens the country's definition of high treason to include "giving financial, technical, consulting, or other help" to other countries or foreign groups. Critics say such vague language could be applied to any member of the opposition who interacts with foreigners.