Putin ill: Russia’s

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Amongst a number of supposed health concerns inflicted on Putin, including dementia and Parkinson’s, rumours have recently surfaced that the Russian president may need to take some time away to undergo surgery for cancer. The rumours appear to have originated from the popular but mysterious Russian telegram channel, “General SVR”.

The channel, allegedly run by a former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service lieutenant general known by the pseudonym “Viktor Mikhailovich”, has claimed Putin’s doctors have advised him to undergo an operation, but it may incapacitate him “for a short time”.

The narrator of the video is heard to say: “Putin is unlikely to agree to hand over power for a longer period of time” before adding control may be handed over to an aide for no more than two to three days.

The Kremlin has neither confirmed nor denied this report however, recent footage of the President has circulated showing him to be shaky, fidgety and “puffy” has sparked rumours he may be suffering from various illnesses, including Parkinson’s and cancer.

Despite the lack of confirmation, many might wonder who would step in if Putin were to truly fall ill.

Who would take over from Putin?

The General SVR telegram report indicated Putin’s closest associate and most trusted representative, Nikolai Patrushev, 70, would temporarily hold power if health issues were to impact his presence.

The narrator of the report said: “I will say that this is the worst option.

“Patrushev is an outright villain. He is no better than Vladimir Putin. Moreover, he is a more cunning, and I would say, more insidious person than Vladimir Putin.

“If he comes to power, Russians’ problems will only multiply.”

Having formed close ties with the President during their former years as KGB officers, Mr Patrushev has been Russia’s secretary of the security council since 2008, an influential body that works out the president’s decisions on national security affairs.

Most of the council’s power is bestowed on Mr Patrushev, who is known as a “Kremlin hawk”, being at the heart of all political discussions and decisions.

Prior to gaining his position as secretary of the security council, the hardliner served as director of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor agency to the Soviet KGB, from 1999 to 2008.

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During his time there, he positioned the agency as one of the main punitive bodies of Putin’s regime as, according to the Free Russia Forum Database, he fostered officers to help Putin concentrate power and destroy political competition in Russia – which is still active to this day.

The former KGB spy was also reportedly among Putin’s advisors during the Crimea annexation, and most recently, Russia’s ongoing illegal invasion of Ukraine.

Known for exercising heavy anti-western trope, Mr Patrushev, who is known as one of the three “Putin loyalists”, along with security service chief Alexander Bortnikov and foreign intelligence head Sergei Naryshkin, could be deemed particularly antagonising.

In a 2017 profile, Politico described Mr Patrushev to be known for his “fiery nationalism, conspiratorial worldview and extensive espionage experience”, which doesn’t paint too good a picture for the rest of the world of the man next in line for power.

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