Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has admitted that the 70-year-old is “absolutely incapable” of deciding whether to run for another presidential term next year.
The Kremlin leader is haunted by rumors of ill health, including cancer, and is embroiled in a brutal war he has unleashed in Ukraine that is not going according to plan.
His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said today that the elections would go ahead despite the military conflict, even if they were “questioned”.
But the 70-year-old Putin has not indicated whether he will hold out.
So far there are no pre-elections or electoral votes – Putin has a lot to do. He’s definitely not ready right now,” Peskov said.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman (pictured on Monday) has admitted the 70-year-old is ‘absolutely incapable’ of deciding whether to run for another presidential term next year
Several elections are scheduled in Russia, including the presidential election – the first round of which is due to take place in March 2024, just over a year away.
Peskov told Izvestia: “It has been decided that there will be elections.
“Under the terms of the SVO (Putin’s ‘special military operation’), the prospects for holding elections – both in September and after presidential elections – were called into question.
“But we heard in the message that this and other elections were due. That it is an integral part of the development of our society and our political system.’
Peskov added: “We have not heard any statements from him so far where he would speak about whether or not to nominate his candidacy.
That is to say, it is still a bit premature. We just have to be patient.’
Peskov did not elaborate on what he meant by saying that Putin “can’t handle it now.”
If he stands, it would be his fifth term as president. In addition, he was acting president for several months at the beginning of 2000.
His critics can hope Putin will use the election to step down amid concerns about his state of mind as Ukraine continues the vicious war.
Supporters hope he will find a loyal successor to continue his repressive rule, but for now there is no clear candidate.
His security chief Nikolai Patrushev, 71, wants his son, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, 45, to be installed as president.
He is considered not ‘stained’ by the war but still has a few safe hands.
Another option is Putin’s fiercely loyal former bodyguard, Alexei Dyumin, 50, now governor of Tula, who once saved the life of the Kremlin leader in an attack by a vicious brown bear.
Former President Dmitry Medvedev, 57, is trying to brush up on his credentials with hardline military and security chiefs with almost daily vicious attacks on the West.
He will probably look for the position again when it becomes available.
Many doubt that Putin will voluntarily relinquish power. True to tradition, the Russian despot formally announced his candidacy quite late in the run-up to the elections.
A Ukrainian soldier of firing squad stands in a trench near the frontline as the Russian assault on Ukraine continues, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, on Feb. 27.
An MLRS, Multiple Launch Rocket System, based on the BM-21 “Grad” fires a missile near the frontline as the Russian assault on Ukraine continues, in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, on Feb. 27
Speculation has suggested that Putin is suffering from cancer and early stage Parkinson’s disease.
Rumors of the Russian president’s declining health, mental state and unstable position had been circulating long before he ordered the invasion of Ukraine. In the year since, the rumors have only grown stronger as the war seems to have taken its toll.
Footage from official meetings and performances shows him clutching a table for support, tapping his feet seemingly uncontrollably and looking unsteady as he walks – having become swollen and bloated in recent years.
But former US ambassador to Russia John Sullivan told Foreign Policy magazine that he saw Putin up close in the months before his invasion of Ukraine.
He questioned claims of a long-term illness.
“I have no reason to believe he is anything other than an aging 70-year-old Russian man who is receiving world-class health care but is currently under world-class stress,” he said.