WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn't been seen in more than a week, prompting people -- including local politicians -- to wonder why.
On Thursday, Putin's spokesman said the president would not attend a meeting with the Federal Security Service which he usually attends. But as the Washington Post reported, Putin was "absolutely" healthy according to Dmitry Peskov, before adding that the president's handshake was so strong it could “break your hand.”
Putin's absence came a day after he unexpectedly canceled a trip to Kazakhstan. "The visit has been canceled. It looks like he (Putin) has fallen ill," an anonymous Kazakh official told Reuters afterward, prompting more speculation -- even back in the U.S.
Greenburgh Superviser Paul Feiner said, "I think he's still in Russia -- worried that if he leaves he will be replaced."
The widespread speculation may end soon, according to Pace University Associate Professor Andriy Danylenko.
Danylenko, who teaches Russian and Slavic linguistics at Pace, is traveling in Prague and Budapest this week.
"According to the latest news from East Europe, Putin is going to appear in the Kremlin shortly." Danylenko said on Friday.
That didn't satisfy Norman Rosenblum, mayor of the Village of Mamaroneck.
"Putin's location or condition will continue to subject of speculation by all who choose to guess," Rosenblum said.
"The only fact is Russia and Putin are a tightly controlled organization and only what he (Putin) and the hierarchy choose to make known will be informed to the public,'' Rosenblum added. "There have been several events that lead to speculation. For example, the assignation of his chief rival, unrest in the sections of Russia, increased pressure related to Ukraine , etc. (that) will evoke as many theories...
"Time will tell what is happening behind the Iron Curtain,'' Rosenblum said on Friday.
And while the Swiss press speculated Putin might be there to witness the birth of a love child to a 31-year-old ex-Olympic gymnast, state Sen. George Latimer found another possible angle.
"Putin is working on his March Madness bracket predictions, probably watching tape to determine who his "Cinderella" team will be, in the Sweet 16," the Rye Democrat mused.
Other public officials were hesitant about commenting -- as long as Putin's whereabouts remain unknown.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.