In a section of the British media reports were doing the rounds recently that Russian President Vladimir Putin will step down next year as he is allegedly suffering from symptoms of Parkinson's disease. However, Kremlin on Friday squashed the rumours claiming the reports to be "untrue".
The Sun reported that there is a growing speculation that Vladimir Putin's 20-year-reign, second only to that of Stalin - could be nearing an end. The rumours started when earlier this week, laws were drafted to make Putin a senator-for-life when he resigns. A legislation introduced by the Russian president was being rushed through parliament to guarantee him legal immunity from prosecution and state perks until he dies.
He signed a new law on appointing the prime minister and other members of the cabinet, TASS News Agency reported on Friday.
Meanwhile, Moscow political scientist Professor Valery Solovei fuelled further speculation on Thursday by suggesting that Putin may have symptoms of Parkinson's disease. He is said to have understood Putin's "undisclosed partner" and former gymnast, Alina Kabaeva, 37, was pressuring him to quit. This along with his daughters Maria Vorontsova , 35, Katerina Tikhonova, 34.
"There is a family, it has a great influence on him. He intends to make public his handover plans in January," Solovei said. He also predicted that Putin would soon appoint a new prime minister who would be groomed to become his successor eventually.
However, Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov rubbished the rumours. "It's absolute nonsense. Everything is fine with the president," he said, as reported by Reuters. When asked if the president was planning to step down in the near future, Peskov replied in the negative.
Kremlin watchers said that a recent footage allegedly showed the 68-year-old Putin has possible symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Observers who studied the clip 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 painkillers".
In 2015, a team of researchers at the Department of Neurology, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, Netherlands headed by Professor Bas Bloem identified an awkwardness 'in Putin's gait which could point to Parkinson's.
The peer-reviewed research says a walk that shows a marked reduction in arm swing on only one side can sometimes be a sign of paralysis agitans. But the team also acknowledged it might be a "gunslingers walk" (KGB agents are trained to keep their weapons tightly pinned to their left-hand side).
However, the president's staff repeatedly played down rumours that he's paving the way for a political exit. 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."