Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly contemplating stepping down early next year as speculation is rife that he might be suffering from Parkinson's disease, which is taking a toll on his health. The news comes on a day Russian lawmakers introduced a bill in the parliament that gives Putin a lifetime immunity from all kinds of criminal prosecution if and when he decides to leave office.
According to a report in The Sun, Putin's longtime girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, and his two daughters are also pressing him to leave office owing to his poor health. Putin, in a recent video footage, can be seen constantly moving his leg from here to there, and according to experts, he looked to be in extreme pain resulting from Parkinson's.
All's Not Well for Putin
Putin, 68, is reportedly preparing for retirement and his family including his 37-year-old girlfriend is urging him to release his grip on power at the earliest. The report in The Sun claims that he could step down as early as in January as Parkinson's is taking a toll on his health. "There is a family, it has a great influence on him. He intends to make public his handover plans in January," Russian political scientist Valery Solovei told the media outlet.
Solovei also said that it is likely that Putin has been recently showing symptoms of Parkinson's, which is likely to make things difficult for him if he stays in office. Parkinson's disease is a brain disorder that leads to shaking, stiffness, and difficulty with walking, balance, and coordination. The symptoms usually begin gradually and get worse over time. Naturally, this gives enough reasons to worry.
Putin was recently seen in a video where he looked to be suffering from utter pain from the way he was moving his legs. The footage was reviewed by an observer, The Sun reported. Further, the footage also appeared to show his fingers twitching as he held a cup that possibly contained medicine.
No Simple Farewell
Putin has been ruling Russia for the past 20 years. He served as Russia's President since 2012, previously holding the position from 1999 until 2008. He was also the Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012. However, even though he steps down from his position, it won't be an ordinary farewell.
Speculation over Putin giving up his grip over power comes on a day Russian lawmakers introduced a bill to the parliament that would give Putin lifetime immunity from criminal prosecution from any offences committed in his lifetime. Currently, ex-presidents are protected from criminal prosecution only while they were in office but this draft bill will give them immunity from prosecution even while they were not in office. The protections can only be revoked only with the help of a supermajority of lawmakers.
Presidential immunity played a major role in Putin's rise to power. Among his first acts as the president of Russia was to issue a decree that granted immunity to the former president Boris Yeltsin from prosecution, interrogations and searches of his property.