A 36-year-old Kremlin hardliner is said to be among Vladimir Putin's successors amid persistent rumors about the Russian President's ill health.

Kremlin experts have identified Dmitry Kovalev, who is believed to share warmonger Putin's love of ice hockey, to be one of the potential successors of the tyrant leader. Speculations emerged after he was seen in close conversation with Putin during the May 9 Victory Day parade.

Kovalev is reportedly working inside the presidential administration. According to the Telegram channel, Baza, Putin met Kovalev, the son of Russian gas tycoon Vitaly Kovalev, at an ice hockey match. "He is in charge of one of the departments of the Presidential Administration. There are a lot of hockey photos on Kovalev's page. It is possible that he met Putin due to their common love for the sport. Many people have been reported as being Putin's successors. So here are pictures of another such candidate," the channel stated.

Meanwhile, Keir Giles, the 54-year-old author of "Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West," claimed that there is "no reason" to think that any successor to Putin would be any less "hardline." Speaking to Express he said, "There are plenty of candidates for Putin's successor who would make Russia's relationship with the West, and with its own people, even worse than Putin has been doing over the last few years of his reign."

The writer added that any successor from the same background as Putin is likely to "continue bringing Russia back to the normal default state of its opposition to the West."

Experts and the public continue to come up with speculations about the health and welfare of the Russian leader, as Putin has been previously seen uncontrollably shaking, even gripping tables and chairs for support, and appearing bloated and ill.

Most recently, Putin reportedly hobbled off his plane and along the red carpet with his right hand strangely stuck to his right leg after touching down in Iran for a summit on Tuesday — leading to rumors that he is suffering from a form of cancer or Parkinson's, as well as several operations to deal with it.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves his presidential plane during the welcoming ceremony at the airport, July 19, 2022, in Tehran, Iran. Russian President Putin and his Turkish counterpart Erdogan arrived to Iran for the summit. Photo by Contributor/Getty Images

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