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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Paper Says Mitterrand Hid News Of Cancer

PARIS -- Controversy has erupted in France over when the late president Fran?ois Mitterrand first developed cancer and whether the regular health bulletins his office issued were honest, while thousands were to gather for a public tribute at Paris' Place de la Bastille.

Mitterrand, who died Monday aged 79 after completing 14 years in office, first acknowledged he had cancer after a prostate operation in September 1992.

But the newspaper Le Monde alleged Tuesday he had known about the cancer since late 1981 or early 1982 and had kept it secret for a decade, having his doctor issue medical reports every six months which were at best misleading.

Le Monde quoted anonymous sources in Mitterrand's "medical entourage" for its report, which was not confirmed by any of the former president's aides.

Mitterrand's successor, Jacques Chirac, 63, has made no commitment to issue medical reports in a country where political leaders' private lives and health are regarded as private rather than public concerns.

Meanwhile, thousands were expected to gather at the Place de la Bastille, a traditional left-wing rallying place for two centuries where hordes of ecstatic Mitterrand backers gathered to dance in the streets when he was first elected president in 1981, for a public tribute.

The three-hour rally was to close with a song of farewell from the top of the steps of the monumental Opera-Bastille built under Mitterrand's rule.

A tribute is scheduled for Thursday morning in Notre Dame cathedral where dozens of world leaders are to attend a memorial mass, which will take place as Mitterrand is buried in his home town of Jarnac in southern France. Only family and friends will attend the burial.

?Moscow residents wishing to pay respects to Mitterrand can sign a condolence book Thursday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the residence of the French ambassador at 45 Bolshaya Yakimanka .