Putin is ‘definitely not up to’ deciding if he will run for president
Putin’s spokesman admits the 70-year-old is ‘definitely not up to it now’ when asked if Vladimir is ready to decide if he will run for president next year
Vladimir Putin ‘s spokesman today admitted the 70-year-old is ‘definitely not up to’ deciding whether he will run for a new presidential term next year. The Kremlin leader has been dogged by rumors of ill health and is embroiled in the brutal war he unleashed in Ukraine, which is not going according to plan. His spokesman Dmitry Peskov said elections would go ahead despite the military conflict, even though they had been ‘called into question.’ But Putin has failed to indicate if he will stand. ‘So far, there are no pre-election or electoral moods – Putin has a lot to do. He’s definitely not up to it now,’ Peskov said.
Several elections are due in Russia, including the presidential poll – the first round of which should be in March 2024, little over one year away. Peskov told Izvestia: ‘There is a decision that there will be elections. Under the conditions of the SVO [Putin’s “special military operation],” the prospects for holding elections – both in September and then presidential ones – were called into question. But we heard in the message that these and other elections should happen. That it is an integral part of the development of our society and political system.’ Peskov added: ‘We have not heard from him so far any statements where he would speak about nominating or not nominating his candidacy. That is, it is still a little premature. We just need to be patient.’ The spokesman did not elaborate further on what he meant by saying Putin was ‘not up to it now.’ If he stands, it would be his fifth term as president. Additionally, he was acting president for several months in early 2000. His critics may hope that Putin will use the election to step down amid concerns over his state of mind in pursuing the war in Ukraine.
Supporters hope he may seek a loyal successor who will carry on his repressive rule, yet there is no clear candidate for now. His hardline security chief Nikolai Patrushev, 71, wants his son, agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev, 45, to be installed as president. He is regarded as not having been ‘smeared’ by the war, yet a safe pair of hands. Another option is loyal former Putin bodyguard Alexei Dyumin, 50, now Tula governor, who once saved the leader’s life in an attack by a vicious brown bear. Former president Dmitry Medvedev, 57, is seeking to burnish his credentials with hardline military and security chiefs with almost daily vitriolic attacks on the West. He is likely to seek the post again if it becomes available. Many doubt Putin will voluntarily give up power. Traditionally, the Russian despot has formally announced his candidacy quite late in the run-up to elections. Speculation has suggested Putin is suffering from cancer and early stage Parkinson’s Disease.
Rumors about the president’s declining health, mental state and unstable position have swirled since long before he ordered the invasion of Ukraine. In the year since, the rumors have only intensified as the war appears to have taken its toll. Footage from official meetings and appearances has shown him gripping a table for support, tapping his feet seemingly uncontrollably, and looking unsteady as he walked – while in recent years he has grown puffy and bloated. But John Sullivan, former US ambassador to Russia, told Foreign Policy magazine that he has seen Putin up close in the months before his invasion of Ukraine. He doubted claims of a long term illness. ‘I don’t have reason to believe that he is anything other than an aging 70-year-old Russian male who’s getting world-class healthcare but is under world-class stress right now,’ he said.
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