I just hope his illness is not an excuse to keep the entire apparatus in place. I'd rather Putin and his cronies be completely overthrown than keep their deeply flawed system in place.

I don't think there's any disagreement there. Russia deserves so much better - Russia has produced and continues to produce culture, scientists, athletes, etc. Russians deserve democracy. But they have never had it, going from Tsar to the Party, then to a transition to crony kleptocracy morphing into authoritarianism. If Putin is to end soon, will Putinism go with it? What will follow?