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Semafor LogoJenna Moon
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Russia, Russian state media deny reports that Sergey Lavrov is in hospital

Jenna Moon is a Breaking News reporter. You can reach her at jmoon@semafor.com. Sign up for Flagship, our daily newsletter that distills what’s happening in the world into a concise, insightful morning read.

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Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov was taken to the hospital in Indonesia for a heart concern, just hours after arriving in the country for the Group of 20 summit, the Associated Press reported.

But Russia, and Russian state-affiliated media, have been quick to deny the report, calling it the “highest level of fakes.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends the ASEAN summit held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 13, 2022.
Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
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Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has denied reports that Lavrov had to be taken to the hospital. On Telegram, she posted a video of Lavrov dressed in shorts and a Jean-Michel Basquiat t-shirt, reviewing a stack of documents.

“They’ve been writing about our president for 10 years that he’s fallen ill. It’s a game that is not new in politics,” Lavrov says in the video.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reads documents on a patio in Bali, Indonesia November 14, 2022, in this still image taken from video uploaded on the Telegram channel of Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
Maria Zakharova via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS

Speaking to Russian state media outlet Tass, Lavrov said “I'm at the hotel. I'm reading up for tomorrow's summit.” Officials in Indonesia told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity that the foreign minister was treated for a heart condition.

In Russia Today, a report about Lavrov’s condition quotes Zakharova as saying she and Lavrov “just couldn’t believe our eyes” after seeing reports circulating in Western media about Lavrov’s health concerns. RT also reports that they sent their reporter, Maria Finoshina, to the Associated Press’s stand at the G20 summit to ask who their sources were on the article about Lavrov’s health. Reporters at the table did not provide any answers, and asked Finoshina to leave.

English-language outlet Sputnik headlined the incident with “Reports of Lavrov's Hospitalization Are Fake,” but offered no other proof of his condition than the video circulated by Zakharova.

Lavrov is attending the G20 in Bali in place of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zakharova is facing sanctions from multiple countries, including the U.S. and Canada, for her role spreading Russian disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine.

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