Vladimir Putin is preparing to dramatically quit the Kremlin and hand over to a trusted crony, according to a explosive letter revealed during a parliament meeting.
The bombshell letter, which visibly shocked President Putin when it was read out, claims the strongman leader is ready to anoint the speaker of the Russian parliament Vyacheslav Volodin as his chosen successor.
But there are fears the text could be a dirty trick involving warring rivals close to the powerful leader.
Putin was evidently caught by surprise when confronted with the claim at a public Kremlin session.
He paused before giving an answer that neither confirmed nor denied whether he will fight next year’s presidential election.
Most pundits predict the strongman will seek another six years in the Kremlin and few doubt he would win by a landslide.