Vladimir Putin‘s death may not mean relations between Russia and the West will improve, an expert has said.
The analysis comes after an unsourced report by a Russian Telegram channel, which regularly makes claims about the Russian president’s health, said Putin suffered a heart attack on Sunday (October 22).
The General SVR channel had suggested recent appearances by the Russian dictator were carried out by a body double or doubles.
It also claimed doctors resuscitated the Judo-loving Russian leader before he was transferred to a special intensive care facility at his official residence.
The latest health claims were laughed off today (October 24) by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who said: “Everything is fine with him. This is absolutely another fake.”
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David Lewis, Professor of Global Politics at the University of Exeter, told Express.co.uk he would be very sceptical about any reports from the Telegram source about Putin’s health.
He added: “There is no indication from other sources that Putin is seriously unwell. Of course, that doesn’t stop people thinking about what might happen in the future.”
On what might happen post-Putin, Professor Lewis said: “It’s very difficult to predict, because it depends on how Putin leaves office – peacefully or through a palace coup, but the most likely scenario after his death is probably some form of collective leadership – at least for a time.”
He explained that potentially all options could be open, from a more hardline figure to more moderate technocrats assuming power.
Professor Lewis said: “There would be huge struggle behind the scenes to take advantage of any power vacuum. There is no guarantee Russia will be easier for the West to deal with after Putin.”
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Names often discussed as possible successors include Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, who Professor Lewis said is seen as “a safe pair of hands” but not a wartime leader.
Born in Moscow in 1966, Mishustin graduated from Moscow State University of Technology- Stankin with a degree in computer-aided design.
Putin appointed the married father of three PM by executive order on January 16, 2020.
Alexei Dyumin, the Governor of Tula and a member of Russia’s powerful siloviki camp, has also been tipped as a possible replacement.
Dyumin, a former bodyguard of Putin’s, reportedly strengthened his position within the president’s inner circle during negotiations over Wagner’s aborted coup, according to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, citing anonymous sources and social media channels.
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Superspy, Nikolai Patrushev, has also been tipped as Putin’s most likely successor as the former head of the FSB spy agency is said to share Putin’s worldview of hostility towards the West and especially the United States.
Dmitry Medvedev, who relinquished the presidency to Putin in 2008 after a four year long term as president, may be in the running too.
Professor Lewis said: “But as with Putin himself, there’s a good chance it might be somebody who does not have a high profile yet. But almost certainly it won’t be a ‘pro-Western’ or liberal leader from the political opposition.”
But shifting political fortunes in Russia have seen potential successors come and go, including “butcher of Mariupol” Mikhail Mizintsev, who earned a reputation for brutality in the Ukraine war.
Tipped as “a face to watch” last year, Mizintsev was sacked as deputy defence minister and had joined the Wagner Group militia by May.
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