Putin will be ‘gone’ by end of this year, claims former head of MI6

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Russian president Vladimir Putin could be out of power and in a long-term medical facility by next year, believes a former MI6 chief.

Sir Richard Dearlove, the head of the British Secret Intelligence service between 1999 and 2004, made the prediction on the One Decision podcast amid swirling rumours about the rapidly deteriorating health conditions of the 69-year-old head of state.

“I’m really going to stick my neck out. I think he’ll be gone by 2023,” said Sir Richard, a co-host of the podcast. “Probably into the sanatorium, from which he will not emerge as the leader of Russia.”

“That’s a way to sort of move things on without a coup,” he suggested, adding that the secretary of the security council, Nikolai Patrushev might assume control upon Mr Putin’s departure.

“If my thesis were fulfilled and Putin did disappear into a sanatorium, I think he’s the likely stand-in,” he said. “And of course the stand-in this scenario probably becomes permanent. I mean, you know there is no succession in the Russian leadership. They certainly don’t succession plan.”

The former intelligence chief also forecasted Russia might “break apart” over the next 12 to 18 months due to the sanctions imposed by the West.

His comments come amid mounting speculation about Mr Putin’s health and rumours he is suffering from cancer.

Another former UK intelligence official, Christopher Steele, made similar comments last week, saying the Russian leader left meetings for medical treatments.

"Meetings of the security council that are shown to supposedly last for a whole hour are actually broken up into several sections,” Mr Steele, who wrote a dossier on Donald Trump and Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 US election, told LBC radio. “He’s constantly accompanied around the place by a team of doctors.”

Earlier, an oligarch with close ties to Mr Putin was reportedly recorded saying that he is “very ill with blood cancer”.

The unnamed Russian oligarch alleged in the recording that Mr Putin had surgery on his back linked to his blood cancer shortly before ordering the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, according to the US-based New Lines magazine.

The concerns over Mr Putin’s health have increased after videos circulating on social media showed him “shaking uncontrollably”.

In April, Mr Putin was seen clutching a table for the entirety of a 12-minute video clip of a meeting he had with his defence minister.

Recently, video footage of Mr Putin from a meeting with his Tajikistan counterpart Emomali Rahmon showed the Russian leader fidgeting and twisting his foot.

Earlier last week, US film director Olive Stone claimed on the Lex Fridman podcast that he had blood cancer around the time when the filmmaker interviewed him between 2015 and 2017.

“Remember this, Mr Putin has had this cancer and I think he’s licked it,” Mr Stone said.

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