Vladimir Putin could be planning to hand over the powers of his presidency amid rumours over his failing health, it has been claimed.
The Russian President is allegedly set to go under the knife to deal with a possible cancer diagnosis, according to alleged leaks from within the Kremlin.
Reports from Telegram channel General SVR, which is allegedly run by an ex-Russian Foreign Intelligence Service lieutenant general, said that the despot had been informed by doctors he would be incapacitated "for a short time".
Because of the alleged incapacitation, Putin is believed to be preparing a temporary hand-off of power to an aide.
Recent public appearances during his troops' horrific invasion of Ukraine show the Russian president looking shaky and puffy-faced.
Speculation over what Putin could be suffering from has aired a variety of medical conditions, including cancer, dementia or Parkinson's disease.
Others believe the rumours of ill health could all be a ploy from Moscow considering how tight Russian government control is over the country's media output.
The Telegram channel is believed to be run by someone using the pseudonym "Viktor Mikhailovich" and they claimed to have released a video saying that Putin had a two-hour "heart-to-heart" with aide Nikolai Patrushev.
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Patrushev was previously chief of the Federal Security Service and now holds a post as secretary of Russia's security council, and is said to be a temporary replacement for Putin.
He could replace the potentially ill president in a matter of days, with reports suggesting Putin has "made it clear" to Patrushev that he views him as "almost the only true confidant and friend in the system of power", the Mirror reports.
Founder and director of the Centre for Russia Europe Asia Studies (CREAS) said: "Illness does not fit with Putin’s strong man narrative that has been carefully cultivated over the years by the Kremlin."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied allegations of ill-health and said Putin was in "excellent" health.
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