Does Putin have Parkinson's and who would replace him if he resigns?
POLITICAL experts claim that Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, is struggling with health issues – possibly Parkinson's disease.
Although the Kremlin has scotched this as "absolute nonsense", an opposition politician is adamant "the transit of power in Russia has begun".
Does Vladimir Putin have Parkinson's?
Back in 2015, researchers at the Department of Neurology, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen in The Netherlands identified signs in Putin's gait which could point to Parkinson's.
The team spotted how the Russian strongman walks with his left arm not moving – almost pinned to his side – while his right arm swings freely.
Pictures of the President, 68, giving speeches also show him with his right arm resting casually on a lectern, with his left arm straight by his side.
The peer-reviewed research says a walk that shows a marked reduction in arm swing on just one side can sometimes be a symptom of Parkinson's disease, says Medical News Today.
But the team also pointed out it could be a "gunslingers walk", as KGB agents were trained to keep their weapons tightly pinned to their left-hand side.
Putin is an ex-KGB officer.
Observers who studied recent footage of Putin noted his legs appeared to be in constant motion and he looked to be in pain while clutching a chair's armrest.
His fingers were also seen to be twitching as he held a pen and gripped a cup believed to contain a cocktail of painkillers.
And one of his critics, Moscow political scientist Professor Valery Solovey, has also suggested that Putin may have symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Solovey was previously a professor at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, but was dismissed in 2019 for "undermining political stability in Russia".
He's gone on record, suggesting to a Moscow radio station that Putin intends quitting his lengthy leadership in 2021.
Solovey said that Putin's family "has a very serious influence on him, commensurate with the influence the family had on Boris Yeltsin.
"By the family, I mean Alina Maratovna Kabaeva, her relatives, his daughters, and several of his very close friends," said Solovey.
Kabaeva is Putin's glamorous ex-gymnast lover.
Who would replace him if he resigns?
Russian opposition leader and former FSB officer Gennady Gudkov reckons that Vladimir Putin has probably already agreed to leave.
He told Russian journalist Alexander Sotnik: "I am sure that the transit of power in Russia has begun.
"I have no insider information – I draw analytical conclusions and follow only common sense and the information that everyone has access to.
"I believe that Putin agreed to leave – either voluntarily or because of his health condition (physical or mental)."
Gudkov believes power will go to a group of "people headed by the security officials, who, it seems to me, will soon consider the question: how to preserve Putinism without Putin?"
He came to that conclusion after observing Putin – famous for being staunch and posing topless while fishing – "behaving strangely" during the coronavirus pandemic.
"All over the world, quite old presidents and prime ministers did not stop their activity," said Gudkov, who also served in the KGB in the Soviet era.
"And their chances of getting infected are slightly higher than that of the average citizen.
"For example, Donald Trump (74) who is older than Putin, is conducting an active election campaign; Angela Merkel (66) is actively working.
"Many other leaders of the countries have had this infection without any problems. All of them, like Vladimir Putin, have access to the best medicine."
But, adds Gudkov, "at this time, Putin has been in the bunker since February-March.
"And, judging by the Kremlin's statements, he will be there until the end of the year: the president continues to conduct his videoconferences, sits in his office, in the same position, in the same place.
"How can you leave a country ruled… in a crisis situation, [by] subordinates? Vladimir Putin is afraid of something."
Putin has also "become much worse at speaking. Previously, he could flaunt flaunt during hours of interviews, telling us about numbers and facts".
Therefore, claims Gudkov, "either by virtue of agreements with his entourage, or for health reasons, Putin has begun to transfer power".
What has the Kremlin said?
The Kremlin on Friday, November 6, rejected as untrue a report in The Sun which suggested that Putin may have Parkinson’s disease and planning to quit early next year.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the media report based on Solovei’s assertions, which was widely picked up by other British tabloid newspapers, was false.
He said: “It’s absolute nonsense.
"Everything is fine with the president.”
Asked if Putin was planning to step down in the near future as Solovei had suggested, Peskov tersely replied: “No”.
In July 2020, Russians opened the door to Putin clutching on to his power until 2036.
They voted overwhelmingly for constitutional changes that will allow him to run again for president – twice.
Then, it was announced in November 2020 that he could instead become a senator for life under surprise new legislation.
The draft law was introduced by Putin himself, and would guarantee him legal immunity and state perks until he dies.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.
The 3 main symptoms of Parkinson's disease are:
- Involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body (tremor)
- Slow movement
- Stiff and inflexible muscles
According to the NHS, a person with Parkinson's disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms.
- Depression and anxiety
- Balance problems (this may increase the chances of a fall)
- Loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
- Problems sleeping (insomnia)
- Memory problems
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