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Will Putin Quit? Leaked Letter Reveals He Will Stand Down as President

Putin prepares to resign from the Kremlin as Russian leader

By: Jay Greenberg  |@NeonNettle
 on 21st April 2017 @ 12.30pm
vladimir putin is rumored to quit as russian president © press
Vladimir Putin is rumored to quit as Russian president

Russia's president Vladimir Putin is due to quit as the Russian leader, according to a leaked letter purportedly from a friend.

Mr. Putin has chosen the speaker of the Russian parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, as his successor as Russian president.

During a public Kremlin session, President Putin was evidently caught by surprise when asked about the claims in the letter and gave a long pause before giving an answer that neither confirmed nor denied whether he will fight next year's presidential election.

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Express reports: Most pundits predict the strongman to seek another six years in the Kremlin, and not many doubt he would win by a landslide, but he has not so far announced he will stand again.

Speaker Volodin - a devout loyalist with a high public profile who served previously as his deputy chief of staff - has not yet commented on the swirling rumors, but in December publicly urged President Putin to stand for another term.

The letter alleging Speaker Volodin "would soon be president" was supposedly penned by another Putin political friend Frants Klintsevich, a senior senator, who is close to both men.

Klintsevich later claimed the letter was a "fake", and he is known to be embroiled in an ugly dispute the man who evidently shocked President Putin by reading it out, Andrey Chepurnoy, the leader of a group of Afghan War veterans.

"The most outrageous thing, Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin], is that here, in this very letter, Klintsevich calls Volodin the successor to the President of the Russian Federation," Chepurnoy told him.

"Vladimir Putin paused to cope with the information he had just received," reported newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

"It's not every day that someone confronts him with the name of his successor - and right before the presidential election."

He replied testily with no clue as to any truth that Speaker Volodin is his chosen heir: "The president's successor will be determined only by the Russian people during a democratic election - and nobody else can do it."

Speaker Volodin, 53, a lawyer before entering politics, was seen with "a completely stony-faced expression" after Chepurnoy's outburst, said a witness.

An ally of the speaker, Sergey Neverov, gave an interview in which he repeatedly avoided answering whether he wanted Speaker Volodin as president.

Yet nor did he back President Putin for another term.

Klintsevich claimed the letter was "fake" and was made up to some "ugly purpose".

"Any graphology expert will prove my words", he said, although the text appeared to be typed.

One theory was that rivals for President Putin's job may have wanted to embarrass Volodin by labeling him as the heir.

Chepurnoy raised the letter in a public session with Putin as part of a battle between him and Klintsevich who has claimed the Afghan War veterans organization is not run transparently.

"He is calling the regions and scares our members, leaders, and officials, saying that Volodin would soon be a president and that he will grant Klintsevich enormous privileges," he said.

Klintsevich would then "bury alive" the leadership of the organization which has rehabilitated 100,000 patients, he said.

President Putin vowed to look into the allegations - "we'll deal with it" - but did not address who would be ruling party United Russia's candidate in next year's election.

The Russian president has indicated he yearns to travel without the weight of high office, yet he has created a system which could lurch into bitter infighting without him as a lynchpin.

In December, Speaker Volodin showed urged Putin - who has been president or prime minister since 1999 - to announce he would seek another term.

"We have a candidate," said Volodin.

"And we will keep supporting him.

"You know him - and I think you will support him too.

"Because he is a man who has proved with his labor and his service that he can do a lot for Russia, that he loves it.

"He is doing everything for our country and he is acknowledged in the whole world."

If he completes a final term, President Putin would be 71 before retiring.

tags: Putin | Russia

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