The end of Vladimir Putin’s tenure will spark chaos in the Kremlin, a former Russian state television pundit has claimed.
Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Middle East Institute in Moscow, claimed in a recent video the “opportunity of collapse” will come as soon as in the next decade, considering Putin “isn’t permanent” and will eventually need to leave office.
It comes as health rumours continue to swirl around Putin, who reportedly suffered a heart attack at his private home in Moscow on Sunday night.
The Russian President, aged 71, will appoint a much weaker figure to take over his post when the time comes, according to Mr Satanovsky – who was recently dismissed as a commentator on state-run Russia-1 for his comments on two ministry officials.
He said: “As always, strong leaders are followed by weak ones, and Putin is very strong in terms of holding power — though what I think about how he’s running the country is a separate topic.
“He’ll put some small, weak s*** in his place. [Former Russian President Dmitry] Medvedev was an example.”
Mr Medvedev, who is currently the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, was President of Russia between 2008 and 2012.
At the time, the Russian Constitution was barring Putin, first elected in 2000, from serving a third consecutive term.
During those four years, Putin served as Prime Minister, before succeeding Mr Medvedev as president once again.
In 2020, Putin secured constitutional changes which will allow him to run again for presidency in 2024 and will give him the chance to stay in power until 2036.
The Russian President hasn’t yet announced his intention to run in the next elections, expected to take place next spring. But his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was keen to stress earlier this month Putin would not have any rival should he decide to put himself forward again.
He said: “We have repeatedly said that President Putin is undoubtedly the number-one politician and statesman in our country. In my personal opinion […] he has no rivals at the moment and cannot have any in the Russian Federation.”
Putin’s biggest political rival, Alexei Navalny, has been in jail for three years, and earlier this month two of his lawyers were placed in pre-trial detention facing up to six years in prison for “participation in an extremist organisation”.
Data shared by a Russian independent polling organisation, Levada Centre, suggested that 80 percent of Russia‘s voters approved of Putin’s activities.
The pundit’s provocative statement also comes amid a flurry of reports regarding his health.