Amid growing doubts about Putin’s health, a little-known Kremlin adviser named Dmitry Kovalev is being tipped by Kremlin watchers to succeed the ailing Russian leader
There is ongoing speculation that Russian leader Vladimir Putin is suffering from serious health problems, as rumors of a potential successor now have their eyes on a young mystery man he was close with at the Victory Day parade.
He’s appeared uncertain and weak in recent public appearances, sparking further speculation when he missed a hockey game that has been a regular on his calendar for a decade.
But if Putin were to resign or be ousted, the big question is who would replace him?
In the short term, Mikhail Mishustin, the prime minister, would automatically assume power if the leader died or became incapacitated.
But Kremlin observers are pointing to Dmitri Kovalev as a possible future leader. Kovalev, a member of the presidential administration, appears to be one of the few people Putin trusts.
Russian news source Baza (Base) posted on Telegram that Kovalev, 36, appeared very friendly to Putin at Monday’s Victory Day Parade in Moscow.
“Baza found out the identity of a young man who talked about something with Vladimir Putin after the end of the Victory Day Parade,” the post reads.
“During the live broadcast, the camera caught their conversation. Some Telegram channels hinted that the young man is a future successor.”
Kovalev is known to be a huge ice hockey fan and there has been speculation that the two men may have bonded over their mutual love of the sport.
Another potential successor could be Nikolai Patrushev. At 70, Patrushev is older than Putin, but it was rumored that he was chosen to be the deputy president in case Putin needed surgery.
Patrushev — a former KGB counterintelligence officer — heads the Russian Security Council, an influential body that reports directly to Putin and issues guidance on military and security issues inside Russia.
dr Sarah Whitmore, a Russian domestic policy expert at Oxford Brookes University, predicted that there could be moves within the Kremlin to determine the “winner” of the next presidential election, and that Patrushev was one of the most likely candidates to succeed Putin.
dr Whitmore said: “If Putin suddenly died of an illness, people would have to be informed and some sort of succession would have to be arranged.
“Someone we know, like Shoigu, has been touted as a potential successor and seen as a popular and acceptable face.”
But she added that the next leader could be a total stranger “who might be even tougher”.
She said: “Where there seems to be expressions of dissatisfaction, it was more critical that Putin was not tough enough on Ukraine and was too soft.”
For more shocking stories from the Latest Page News, sign up for one of our newsletters here
Putin has said he is actively searching for the next generation of Russian leaders.
In an interview with NBC, he said: “You know, I have connected my whole life, my whole destiny so much with the destiny of my country that there is no more meaningful goal in my life than to strengthen Russia.
“If someone else, and if I see that person, even if that person is criticizing some areas of my work, if I can see that this is a person who has constructive views, that he or she is committed to the country and is willing sacrificing his whole life for this country, not just a few years, no matter how he personally feels about me, I will make sure, I will do everything, that such people get support.
But there is no certainty that Putin is going anywhere.
He has been in power for two decades and last year amended Russia’s constitutional laws, allowing him to run for two more six-year terms in 2024 and 2030.