VLADIMIR Putin is planning to quit early next year amid growing fears for his health, Moscow sources claimed last night.
Kremlin watchers said recent tell-tale footage showed the 68-year-old strongman has possible symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.
And informed analysts claimed that the Russian president’s glamorous ex-gymnast lover Alina Kabaeva, 37 is begging him to release his grip on power.
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 the armrest of a chair.
His fingers are also seen to be twitching as he held a pen and gripped a cup believed to contain a cocktail of painkillers.
Speculation that his 20-year-reign – second only to that of Stalin – could be nearing an end grew earlier this week when laws were drafted to make him a senator-for-life when he resigns.
Legislation introduced by Putin himself was being rushed through parliament to guarantee him legal immunity from prosecution and state perks until he dies.
Moscow political scientist Professor Valery Solovei fuelled further speculation last night by suggesting Putin may have symptoms of Parkinson’s.
The academic said he also understood Putin’s undisclosed partner Alina was pressuring him to quit – along with his daughters Maria Vorontsova , 35, Katerina Tikhonova, 34.
Solovei said: “There is a family, it has a great influence on him. He intends to make public his handover plans in January”.
The professor predicted that Putin would soon appoint a new prime minister who would be groomed to become his eventual successor.
The president’s staff have repeatedly played down rumours that he is paving the way for a political exit.
And Putin himself has regularly released pictures of him looking fit and toned in Action Man poses hunting, shooting, horse riding and playing ice hockey.
His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the senator-for-life move: “This is the practice that is being applied in many countries of the world, and it is quite justified.
“This is not innovation from the point of view of international practice.”
The Sun (UK)