Sources within Moscow have claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be planning to step down from his position in January owing to health reasons.
A report published Thursday said that Putin's family, including his 37-year-old girlfriend, Alina Kabaeva, and his two daughters have been urging him to leave his office.
Separate sources citing footage of Putin's recent public appearances have claimed that the 68-year-old strongman president of Russia may have Parkinson's disease. One footage, which showed Putin's legs moving involuntarily and him holding on to his seat's armrest, has led to rumors of his suffering from the degenerative disease.
"There is a family, it has a great influence on him. He intends to make public his handover plans in January," Moscow political scientist Valery Solovei said in an interview.
Solovei claimed that Putin was almost positively suffering from Parkinson's based on his recent behavior. During a recent public appearance, Putin appeared to be in agony and his fingers were uncontrollably twitching as he held a cup.
Other evidence that supports his claimed planned departure from office is the acceleration of the passing of new legislation that would grant ex-presidents immunity from criminal prosecution. The proposed legislation, which had emerged just this week, was introduced by Putin himself.
If passed, it would also make Putin a senator for life; granting him state perks until his death. Political experts have pointed out that the passing of the law is a clear sign that groundwork is being made for the eventual transition of power.
Rumors of the Russian president suffering from the disease have been circulating for the past few months. Putin had recently been observed to walk with a "gunslinger's gait," where one arm swings much lower than the other while walking.
According to the British Medical Journal, an asymmetrically reduced arm swing is one of the tell-tale signs of Parkinson's. Subjects who have suddenly shifted to the gait have been proven to be more predisposed to later developing the disease, the journal said.
As for who will be taking over his position, no one is yet sure who will be replacing one of the most powerful men in the world. Experts have said that Putin will likely be appointing someone to take his place, a person that he personally can "groom" to take over.