Vladimir Putin’s standing as Russia’s president is getting less stable as each week goes by, with a growing possibility of an FSB overthrow.
A whistleblower alleges that public outrage over Vladimir Putin’s handling of the Ukraine conflict has increased the likelihood of him being deposed in a coup by the security services each week.
Russian forces have made little progress into Ukraine since the start of the “special military operation” on February 24 and appear to have failed in their bid to destabilize the Kyiv administration.
While Putin has extensively regulated Russian media, there has been dissatisfaction with the invasion of a country that many regards as a brother, and now huge deaths by the Russian army, rumored to be as high as 15,000, are making it even more unpopular.
A month has passed since the invasion began, and there is even indication that the Russians are being pushed back in certain areas of Ukraine.
And a source in the Federal Security Service [FSB] has told Vladimir Osechkin, a dissident Russian wanted by authorities for exposing jail torture, that hatred is growing toward Putin.
Putin’s anger with the slow pace of progress in Ukraine has led him to point the finger at FSB officers, according to Osechkin’s source.
According to Osechkin, high-ranking officials are particularly irritated by the sanctions, which have limited their ability to spend their income in the West.
Putin, a former KGB agent, is well-versed in the FSB, having served as its director from 1998 to 1999.
“For 20 years Putin created stability in Russia. FSB officers, policemen, state prosecutors, those people inside the system, were able to live good lives,” Osechkin told The Times.
“For every week and every month that this war continues, the possibility of a rebellion by those in the security services increases.”
Osechkin’s source is thought to work in the secret service’s analytics division.
With tensions high, Putin is said to be suspicious of his close ally and friend, defense minister Sergei Shoigu, who is in command of the stalled military operation.
Long-time ally and FSB security service head Alexander Bortnikov, who is rumored to be a stand-in for Putin in the event of a coup, is also under fire, as is Russian General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov.
Igor Kostyukov, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, is another target of Putin’s rage.
According to Russian security specialist Andrei Soldatov, military counterintelligence is investigating an FSB security service department.
He told the New Yorker: “That could mean that, finally, people in Moscow started asking themselves why the US intelligence was so accurate.
“Military counterintelligence is mostly about mole-hunting, identifying the sources of leaks. So it looks like now Putin is getting angry, not only with bad intelligence and the bad performance in Ukraine but also about the sourcing of the US intelligence about the invasion, and why US intelligence was so good before the invasion, and why the Americans knew so many things about what was coming.”
Fear has kept information about Ukraine’s potential resistance to Russian invasion hidden from Putin. Despite the increasingly hostile treatment they are receiving, Soldatov does not anticipate a move by his inner circle to assassinate Putin.
“I think now Putin is almost in no danger,” he told ZDF Heute in Germany. He has two security services, who are primarily responsible for ensuring that nothing happens to Putin personally.
“We know that he himself is a former intelligence officer, who understands the different risks. He often claims that he successfully survived from 12 to 13 assassination attempts on his life. In this sense, everything is safe for him.”
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