We all have to go at some point. In the past, in the USSR either die or get too decrepit to carry on. Although decrepitude has never been something to stop Soviet leaders. Only death tends to do that.
"If it’s a question of Putin being removed, it’s never going to be happen at the ballot box"
When it comes to Putin, we just don't know when he’ll go, and who’ll follow. We don't know what the relationships around him are. We can identify certain people that he apparently trusts, such as Dmitri Medvedev. But when Medvedev was president and Putin was Prime Minister, Medvedev wouldn’t sneeze without Putin giving him permission to do it first.
"We can identify certain people that he apparently trusts, such as Dmitri Medvedev"
Furthermore, Nobody leaves Putin’s inner circle because they've all got so much dirt on each other. Corruption is huge in this circle, just as it is throughout the country.
So I think there’ll either be someone appointment from within the inner circle or there could be some kind of revolution. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent 10 years in a labour camp because he crossed Putin, maintains that there could be some sort of peaceful revolution in Russia.
But much as I have great respect for Khodorkovsky, I don't see a peaceful revolution happening. The reason is that Putin and his cronies play dirty. They don't believe in democracy. They don't believe in what the English might call cricket. They believe in winning at all costs. So if it’s a question of Putin being removed, it’s never going to be happen at the ballot box.
One particularly grim scenario would be a revolution and it would be a very bloody one. It's perhaps ironic that next year will be 100 years since the Bolshevik revolution which was also very bloody and followed by a very bloody civil war. I genuinely think that scenario could be repeated.
But as things are at the moment the most likely scenario, if Putin were to die in perhaps a plane crash or terrible accident, then one of his inner circle would take over and we would have more of the same.