Expert weighs in on what will happen when Putin dies

Putin appears to limp amidst speculation over his health

The fall of Vladimir Putin would lead to chaos on the streets of Russia and end the war in Ukraine, a Russian writer has predicted.

Mikhail Shishkin has claimed that without the Russian President at the helm, the country would crumble like the “fall of an empire”.

The author of My Russia: War Or Peace, published in March, told The Times that regional governors would protect themselves, seizing their assets and using private armies.

Talks of who would replace the former KGB officer have been renewed once again in light of the alleged assassination attempt last week.

The Russian presidential administration claimed that Ukraine used drones to attack the Kremlin in what it said was an attempt on Putin’s life.

Russian forces were said to have used radar equipment to shoot down the two drones in the heart of Moscow which it described as a “planned terrorist act and an assassination attempt on the President”.

The news comes just weeks after renewed talks about Putin’s health. The Pentagon papers, leaked in April, included a document that claimed Putin was undergoing chemotherapy.

Rumours about his having cancer or Parkin’s disease have circulated in the past with some being convinced that it was the case.

In January, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, told ABC: “He has been sick for a long time. I am sure he has cancer. I think he will die very quickly. I hope very soon.”

When Putin, who has now been in power for 23 years, falls or dies Mr Shishkin has predicted that there will be a battle for power with war in Ukraine falling by the wayside in the list of priorities.

He said: “The war in Ukraine will stop and a bandit war will begin for the control of Russia and these people, who will fight for their lives and for power, couldn’t care less who Crimea or Donbas belong to.”

It is thought that Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner mercenary group who is known as Putin’s chef on account of his supplying the Kremlin’s catering, would come out well in this situation, it has been predicted.

A rift between him and the Kremlin appears to be on the cards already.

An expletive-ridden video of the Wagner chief emerged online where he slammed the Kremlin military leadership and the lack of ammunition. He described Russia’s top officials as “fat cats” sitting in luxury officers while “Wagner lads’” blood lies“fresh” on the ground.

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Much like Mr Shishkin, Russian opposition powerhouse Lyubov Sobol told Foreign Policy earlier this year that he also sees a free for all chaos on Russia’s horizon post-Putin.

He said: “There will be a lot of political turmoil after Putin. Anyone will be able to take part. But having the resources of a well-known name, media outlets, and followers is useful.”

Over the course of Putin’s rule, opposition figures have been eradicated. Alexei Navalny, the country’s most prominent opposition politician, is currently in jail with it being alleged last month that he was unwell after being given a slow-acting poison.

The only surety is written in the constitution which stipulates that Russia’s prime minister Mikhail Mishustin would take over if something were to happen to Putin.

If Putin did die, his followers would likely hope to replace him with someone who could continue his legacy while ensuring that his backers are not persecuted for their involvement with him.

Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin and his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, for their alleged involvement in the deportation of children.

A Russian dissident MP who now lives in exile in Ukraine, Ilya Ponomarev, also thinks that Putin’s days are numbered.

He believes that the Russian leader will not see his next birthday in October but thinks that if Putin’s “Himmler” was found the empire would strike back rather than fall.

The author of the 2022 book Does Putin Have to Die? told in February that Putin’s followers will try to replace him with someone who can preserve the system, but he stressed that the onus is on the West as to whether this should be able to happen.

He said: “The West needs to know that replacing Hitler with a spare, with a Himmler, is not a good idea. Otherwise, the empire will strike back.”

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