Vladimir Putin will nominate his chosen successor this year rather than risk being toppled as the Russian President's popularity continues to plummet amid a series of military defeats in Ukraine, his former ally has claimed, the media reported.

Putin will seek to hand over power to a chosen heir and retire to his 1 billion pounds Black Sea 'palace' rather than risk the ignominious fate of toppled tyrants like Muammar Gaddafi, said Abbas Gallyamov, Putin's former speechwriter, Daily Mail reported.

The Russian leader will seek to give up power to a technocrat successor who could negotiate an end to the war with Ukraine and the West, and probably not fight the 2024 election, he told Khodorkovsky Live You Tube channel.

Gallyamov said the despot will likely nominate a 'trusted underling' as president -- like the Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, or his deputy chief of staff Dmitry Kozak, Daily Mail reported.

Putin's circle no longer see him as a 'guarantor of stability' and are alarmed by the rise of Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the well-armed Wagner private army, which is so far loyal to the Kremlin but could turn on an elite seen as failing in the war, Gallyamov said.

They fear being slaughtered with Prigozhin's sledgehammer -- the extrajudicial punishment given to his jail convict soldiers who refuse to fight or seek to defect to Ukraine, Daily Mail reported.

One of Prigozhin's former Wagner mercenaries, who changed sides in the Ukraine war, Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, had his head taped to a brick wall and was beaten to death with a sledgehammer in November when he was captured by his former colleagues.

Prigozhin praised the defector's execution and said that a 'dog receives a dog's death' in response to the video of Nuzhin being bludgeoned to death.

Since Putin's war began, his allies like Prigozhin and Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov have begun jockeying for power and prominence, suggesting that they could one day want to supplant him, Daily Mail reported.