Russian president Vladimir Putin has been in self-isolation recently after a number of people in his immediate circle contracted the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin added that although the president tested negative for the virus, he had been holding several public engagements indoors, the Associated Press reported. According to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, it is not clear when Putin had begun confining himself indoors nor is there any word until when he would remain in self-isolation. 

In a videoconference with government officials and members of the United Russia party, the Russian leader mentioned a staff member with whom he was in close contact with last week tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated and even recently receiving a third shot. 

“Three days after revaccination he fell ill,” Putin said. “We will see how Sputnik V really works.”

Putin has received the complete dose of Russia’s Sputnik V, but has been heavily criticized for being complacent with imposing measures to control the surge of infections. The leader has been observed to be quite undaunted with getting infected having rarely been seen wearing a mask in public.

However, despite a general lack of restrictions, Putin goes to extreme lengths to protect himself. Peskov confirmed media reports that anyone who meets with Putin or attends events with him have to subject themselves to “rigorous testing” or quarantine ahead of their scheduled meets.

Last year, disinfection tunnels were set up at Putin's residence and the Kremlin where visitors meeting with the president would have to walk through while being sprayed with disinfectant mist. 

Putin who turns 69 in October, is known for his outdoorsy and athletic lifestyle and is often seen engaging in judo, horse riding and swimming. He is also famous for not being shy around cameras and has been  photographed many times without his shirt on. 

Despite showing an indomitable side to him, many cannot help but ponder on the idea of who would succeed him. Although the Russian leader has not yet decided on running for another term in 2024, many have been pondering who would succeed him.

Pro-Kremlin observers dare not name any potential successors from among the current cabinet members but as a rule, the Kremlin’s list of possibilities will be made public in the event of Putin’s retirement or his death.

Some have observed the frequent fishing and hunting trips of Putin with Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu with many citing this to be a symbolic anointing. He is Russia’s longest serving cabinet member and the second most popular politician next to Putin.

Political analysts and researchers said that the 66-year-old Shoigu who was appointed by the president to be the poster boy of United Russia has the best leverage of being Putin’s successor than anyone else.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses Tokyo 2020 Paralympic medalists during the meeting at the Grand Kremlin Palace, on September 13, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images