Numerous close advisers to Russian President Vladimir Putin have died, suffered “heart attacks,” have been jailed, or disappeared from public view, as the paranoid president appears to be fighting off a potential coup.
Earlier this month, Putin sacked at least 150 top commanders from Russia’ spy agency FSB – a purge that comes in response to Russia’s bungled war in Ukraine.
Defense chief Sergey Shoigu disappeared for a while due to a “heart attack” that was reportedly “not from natural causes,” and has now been “ruled out of the game” and unable to perform his duties, according to Leonid Nevzlin, a sworn enemy of Putin. He claims that Shoigu is now “in intensive care.”
Another individual who has apparently been attacked is Vladislav Avayev, a top Russian banker. He and his family were found murdered in their luxury Moscow apartment shortly after the bank (Gazprombank) was hit with Western sanctions.
Valery Gerasimov, Russia’s chief of general staff and first deputy defense minister, has also been sidelined. As his strategy to win the war in Ukraine has faltered mightily, he has become increasingly quiet and out of the public eye, with Colonel General Alexander Dvornikov instead taking a leading role.
Gerasimov had also gone missing for two weeks at the same time as Shoigu, with rumors swirling that they had both been targeted on Putin’s orders.
Sergei Beseda, another former close Putin confidant, has been tossed into the notorious high-security Lefortovo Prison. Before his fall from power, Beseda had been the head of the FSB’s intelligence and political subversion unit. He had reportedly fallen out of favor with Putin over his failure to create a pro-Russian opposition in Ukraine.
The prison where Beseda is being held was infamous for holding political prisoners in the USSR and is now often used to detain suspected traitors. The prison still has an underground shooting range marked with bullet holes from the days when Stalin carried out mass executions in the 1930s and 1940s.
Yet another individual who has been put out of the picture is Roman Gavrilov, the former deputy chief of Russia’s Rosgvardia unit, which led the first push into Ukraine.
He was arrested last month over claims that he was responsible for “leaks of military information that led to loss of life” and “fuel waste.”
Gavrilov had been part of the personal guards of three Russian presidents: Boris Yeltsin, Dmitry Medvedev, and Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this month, Putin ordered the jailing of another former close aide: Vladislav Surkov. He is a shadowy figure who has been dubbed the “father of Putinism” and he is now being held under house arrest. His arrest came amid a reported criminal probe investigating the embezzlement of nearly 4 billion rubles.
Surkov has been credited with helping keep Putin in power by creating fake opposition parties that were really being controlled by Putin, and he also founded Nashi, the Russian equivalent of the Hitler Youth. He also reportedly shaped Putin’s belief that Ukraine is not a “real” country and has called for Russia to annex Ukraine, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov said he believes that the shakeup in Putin’s top staff is part of the president’s attempts to ward off a “palace coup.”
Kasparov laid out what he thinks it would take for a coup to eventually occur.
“First, the Russian public and Russian elite, they have to recognize the war is lost,” he said. “The bad news coming from Ukraine will inspire more people to rise because economic hardship will increase.”
“So, military defeat in Ukraine, social-economic revolt and then you will have conditions, the right conditions, for a palace coup. Because many of Putin’s inner circle will be looking for a scapegoat and it’s always a dictator who should be blamed for all the failures.”
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)