Kremlin denies reports Putin planning to quit amid health fears

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov refutes UK tabloid report claiming Putin is showing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Vladimir Putin was first elected as Russia's president in 2000 [File: Reuters]

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied a UK media report claiming President Vladimir Putin was planning to resign due to health conditions, assuring the Russian leader is in good health.

“No,” Peskov said in response to a question on whether the president was planning to quit. “He is in excellent health,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported on Friday.

The statement came after The Sun reported, citing sources, that Putin was planning to quit next year after showing possible symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

According to the UK tabloid, observers studied recent footage where Putin’s leg appeared to be in constant motion while he seemed to be in pain clutching the armrest of a chair. His fingers seemed to be twitching while he held a cup believed to contain painkillers, the newspaper said.

The report came after the lower house of Russia’s legislature proposed a law that could provide Russian ex-presidents immunity from criminal prosecution in their lifetimes, not merely while in office.

The bill, published on a government website, is one of several being introduced following constitutional reforms that, among other things, allow Putin to run again when his term ends in 2024.

The new bill would also make it harder to revoke ex-presidents’ expanded immunity.

It would require the upper house of Parliament to vote overwhelmingly to revoke it on the strength of accusations by the lower house that the president had committed treason or another serious crime.

The bill will become law if the lower house votes to approve it in three readings, the upper house backs it, and Putin then signs it.

Putin was first elected as Russia’s president in 2000. He has served longer than any Russian or Soviet politician since the early 1950s – and could be on course to be one of his nation’s longest-serving leaders.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies