Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to undergo cancer surgery and temporarily hand over power to a hardline former federal police chief, according to a new report.
Putin will transfer control of Russia’s government to Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian federal police’s Security Council, while he is incapacitated during and after the procedure, according to a video from the mysterious Telegram channel “General SVR” on Saturday.
The channel — which is purportedly run by a former Russian Foreign Intelligence Service lieutenant general known by the pseudonym “Viktor Mikhailovich” — reported that Putin has been told by doctors that he must undergo an operation.
The anticipated surgery and recovery are expected to incapacitate Putin for “a short time,” according to the unconfirmed report.
“Putin is unlikely to agree to hand over power for a longer period of time,” the narrator of the video states, adding that the control of the country will likely be in Patrushev’s hands for no more than two to three days.
I will say that this is the worst option,” the narrator adds. “Patrushev is an outright villain. He is no better than Vladimir Putin. Moreover, he is a more cunning, and I would say, more insidious person than Vladimir Putin. If he comes to power, Russians’ problems will only multiply.”
“Viktor Mikhailovich” ominously hinted that he and his allies “will make certain efforts so this does not happen, and I hope we will succeed.”
The insider claimed that Putin’s cancer is progressing, but darkly quipped that he doesn’t want to give viewers “false hope.”
Putin, 70, whose sickly appearance and uncharacteristically fidgety behavior in public have recently raised questions about his health, has been rumored to suffer from cancer and a host of other serious maladies, including Parkinson’s disease.
Putin’s suspected health problems come at a particularly inopportune moment, with the war in Ukraine in its third month and Russia suffering heavy losses on the battlefield.
In a a Telegram post that appeared Thursday, it was alleged that Patrushev had had a two-hour “heart-to-heart” conversation with Putin.
“We know that Putin signaled to Patrushev that he considers him to be practically his only trusted ally and friend in the government,” the post claimed. “Additionally, the president promised that if his health takes a turn for the worse, actual control of the country will temporarily pass into Patrushev’s hands.”
In early April, the authors behind the Telegram channel claimed that Putin’s doctors had recommended surgery for later that month, but that did not happen.
Another Russian investigative news outlet, Proekt, claimed last month that Putin had been visited dozens of times by a top thyroid cancer.
New questions were raised about Putin’s physical state last month when he was seen tightly gripping a desk during his meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The Kremlin has consistently denied that Putin suffers from any medical problems.