Vladimir Putin will quit in January amid speculation he may have Parkinson's disease, a Moscow professor has claimed.
The 68-year-old strongman president of Russia is being urged to retire by his former gymnast lover Alina Kabaeva, 37, according to Kremlin critic Professor Valery Solovei - a frequent media pundit in Russia.
His comments came as footage circulated in Russia of Putin's legs moving around as he gripped onto the armrest of a chair. Eyes are also drawn to a twitching pen in the former KGB operative's fingers and a cup which analysts have suggested were filled with painkillers.
Earlier this week it emerged that unexpected legislation was being rushed through to ensure that Putin could be made a senator-for-life.
The new draft legislation was introduced by Putin himself, and would guarantee him legal immunity and state perks until he dies.
State-run RT media forecast the move will be seen 'as a sign that the groundwork is being laid for an eventual transition of power in Russia'.
It is not the first time that people have speculated that Putin may be suffering from Parkinson's disease.
Others have previously noted his 'gunslinger's gait' – a clearly reduced right arm swing compared to his left, giving him a lilting swagger.
An asymmetrically reduced arm swing is a classic feature of Parkinson's and can manifest in 'clinically intact subjects with a predisposition to later develop' the disease, according to the British Medical Journal.
The phenomenon has been demonstrated in video reviews of football matches played by the legendary Arsenal and Liverpool midfielder Ray Kennedy.
Kremlin critic Professor Valery Solovei last night said that Putin's lover Ms Kabaeva, as well as his daughters Maria Vorontsova, 35, Katerina Tikhonova, 34, were urging him to step down.
Solovei said the president had Parkinson's.
'There is a family, it has a great influence on him. He intends to make public his handover plans in January,' he said.
He suggested a new prime minister will soon be appointed by Putin who will be 'groomed' to takeover.
The president's advisers have always poured scorn on the notion that his health is failing and Putin has cultivated an athletic image: riding horses, wrestling, playing ice hockey and swimming in frigid lakes.
Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the senatorial shift: 'This is the practice that is being applied in many countries of the world, and it is quite justified.
'This is not innovation from the point of view of international practice.'