‘Putin is hale & hearty’

Vladimir Putin

Moscow: The Kremlin on Friday rejected as untrue a report in Britain’s mass market Sun newspaper which suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have Parkinson’s disease and be poised to quit early next year.

The Sun cited Professor Valery Solovei, a Russian political pundit, who suggested earlier this week on a Moscow radio station that Putin was under pressure from his entourage to step down due to fears for his health.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the media report based on Solovei’s assertions, which was widely picked up by other British tabloid newspapers, was false.

It’s absolute nonsense, said Peskov. Everything is fine with the president. Asked if Putin was planning to step down in the near future as Solovei had suggested, Peskov said: No. Vladimir Putin may step down as Russian president in January amid ‘fears he has Parkinson’s disease’, reports claimed on Friday. Putin’s 37-year-old girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, and his two daughters are urging him to quit his post, a report in The Sun quoted Moscow political scientist Valery Solovei as saying.

As per the report, Putin appeared to be in pain while constantly clutching the armrest of his chair and his legs appeared to be in constant motion, according to an observer who reviewed recent footage.

The speculation of Putin being ill and planning to step down as Russian president comes amid Moscow lawmakers considering legislation proposed that would grant ex-presidents lifetime immunity from criminal prosecution.