With the conflict in Ukraine seemingly not reaching an end anytime soon, it feels like most of the world is waiting on the same thing to happen: the removal of Vladimir Putin from his position as the president of Russia. But would that really solve all the problems, and what would happen if Putin met his end while still being in office?
Since Putin just signed a law that would allow him to stay in office until 2036 and Russian elections have always been filled with irregularities, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Putin will stay president for another 14 years unless someone actively does something about it.
If Putin had health problems, we’d never know about it. The Russians go to great lengths to make sure that all details regarding the medical situation of the president remains a secret. Considering their history in this topic, official news will probably always be that Putin has a clean bill of health until the day he dies.
Technically, if Putin was gone, the seat of acting president would fall to the current Prime Minister, being Mikhail Mishustin. That probably won’t be what happens in real life since authoritarian structures are not unlike criminal families: when a power void happens, everyone wants to try and fill that void. There would be an election a few months later where a new president would be chosen. Whoever ends up becoming the actual replacement is anyone’s guess.
The longer Putin stays in power right now, the longer the western sanctions will cripple Russia’s economy. The entire world, apart from a country or five, is currently not supporting Russia and this probably won’t end overnight when Putin is no longer in office. The systems Putin has built up will need to be stripped down and removed to gain faith in the eyes of the rest of the world, meaning the successor for Putin will have to rebuild the country from scratch.
Putin has for a long time now been using a force of pseudo-Cossacks, so to speak, which help him deal with all kinds of tasks. They’re basically an armed militia that supports Putin beyond any reasonable doubt, which could lead to a scenario where they fill in the power void and take over the Russian state structure. They’re not very organised though, so this would not be a long term solution.
One thing we can be sure of is that Putin’s death would cause a great successional crisis in Russia. And while it wouldn’t be their first, it would mean that everything Russia has built up since the fall of the Soviet Republic would be pretty much forfeit. Whatever systems they had before that would help a smooth transition of power have all been dismantled by Putin himself.