Could Putin Die in Office from Disease? Vladimir Putin has spent a career at the top of the Russian political pyramid proving to his people that he is virile, masculine, and healthy. From playing ice hockey to dipping in freezing waters and hiking or fishing with no shirt on, this individual knows that his macho image helps keep him in power.
But what if, in reality, he is sick?
Namely, could he be affected by early stage Parkinson’s disease or even pancreatic cancer?
Putin is 70-years-old and doesn’t smoke or drink alcohol regularly. But his body could be breaking down, especially from the stress of the war.
He is not the only despot to endure health afflictions that have tongues wagging.
North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un has been rumored to have health problems due to dramatic weight loss and a risky diet that includes alcohol abuse and smoking.
Putin’s Health Is Spiraling Downward
But Putin’s problems are believed to be much more serious if a November report from the British media outlet The Sun can be believed.
The tabloid said it had reviewed messages from an un-named Russian intelligence source that said Putin is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and pancreatic cancer that is spreading quickly.
The Sun’s source claims that Putin is being kept afloat with heavy doses of steroids and painkillers.
Putin is reportedly experiencing memory problems and a puffy face that would be a side effect of his therapeutics, according to The Sun.
IV Tracks on Putin’s Hand
Rumors of these diseases fall in line with Twitter images posted by a Kyiv Post reporter that purported to show signs that Putin is taking fluids due to IV (intravenous) “tracks” on his hand.
The video was taken while Putin was visiting troops in Ryazan Oblast in October. The screenshot definitely shows a circular pattern of at least six red welts on the top of Putin’s hand. This could be nothing more than a rash of some sort and not the signs that he has been hospitalized.
But Jason Jay Smart, the journalist who posted the images, said Russian state media blurred the photo with watermarks so it would be more difficult to see Putin’s hand – perhaps signs of a cover-up of some kind.
The Sun also recounted a quote from Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of British spy agency MI6, that revealed Putin would be housed in a sanitarium eventually and could die as soon as next year.
Has Putin Been Twitching?
Sky News has reported that Putin was “routinely seen twitching and unsteady during public appearances.” Other photos have shown Putin gripping a table with his right hand in a manner that would lead one to believe that he was attempting to hide a tremor in his hand and arm.
This could be one sign of Parkinson’s or demonstrates that he experiences regular pain that comes from cancer.
Telegram channel General SVR has observed Putin’s health for months, and this channel has stated that Putin had “coughing fits, constant nausea and a lack of appetite.”
Soviet Leaders Had Poor Health
The Soviet Union had a long history of leaders dying in office.
Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, and Konstantin Chernenko all succumbed to various illnesses. Sometimes a succession plan was clear and other times the next in power was a mystery.
What Is the Succession Plan?
Should Putin die, who would immediately take over?
The Russian Constitution says the prime minister would resume power. That person is Mikhail Mishustin, who is often out of the limelight and not seen as a long-term choice.
Nikolai Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council secretary, has more power and could come to the throne eventually.
Is It Really Parkinson’s or Cancer?
I’m no medical doctor, but it seems that Putin having a serious disease is far-fetched. There is just not enough solid evidence. Symptoms of Parkinson’s and pancreatic cancer would be more pronounced, and Putin would have to completely leave the public eye to convalesce. These diseases would progress rapidly and fully incapacitate the Russian leader. In October, Putin was shown firing a sniper rifle in a photo op documented by Reuters. This would be difficult to pull off with Parkinson’s.
I do believe he has been ill with less serious afflictions during the war. And it would be understandable that he has suffered from the flu, a worsening cold, or even Covid-19 during the last few months due to stress, long hours, and lack of sleep.
The medical rumors are likely to continue, but if he did die in office, it would be one of the most significant transitions of power since Stalin died. There is no clear heir apparent, and Putin does not appear to have anyone he is grooming to fill his shoes. This could leave a power vacuum and the world would hold its breath to see what would come next.
Expert Biography: Serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.