The Kremlin is denying reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to step down next year due to contracting Parkinson’s Disease. The initial report was published on Thursday in the British tabloid, The Sun, citing Moscow political scientist Valery Solovei.
“It’s absolute nonsense,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said to Reuters on Friday,. “Everything is fine with the president.”
Asked if Putin was planning to soon step down, Peskov said, “No,” emphasizing that the Russian president was healthy.
Report: Parkinson’s Disease
In the initial report, Solovei claimed that Putin’s family was urging him to retire.
“There is a family, it has a great influence on him. He intends to make public his handover plans in January,” Solovei told The Sun, suggesting that Putin would soon appoint a new prime minister who would be groomed to become his eventual successor.
New Russian Law
The report came after the lower house of Russia’s legislature proposed a draft law that would grant ex-presidents immunity from criminal prosecution in their lifetimes. The current law provides presidents immunity while in office. The president cannot be held criminally or administratively liable and cannot be detained, arrested, or subjected to a search or an interrogation
The new bill also will allow Putin to run again when his term ends in 2024.
Putin is 68-years old and has served as President of Russia 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. During his first tenure as president, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, with GDP measured by purchasing power increasing by 72%, real incomes increased by a factor of 2.5, real wages more than tripled; unemployment and poverty more than halved and the Russians’ self-assessed life satisfaction rose significantly. Conversely, has experienced democratic backsliding with Putin’s administration jailing political opponents, curtailing press freedom, and the lack of free and fair elections.
Putin, who has a black-belt in judo, is reportedly healthy and is frequently seen promoting sports and a healthy lifestyle among Russians.