Plot to depose Putin ‘grows every week’ as whistle-blower says FSB fury mounting

Vladimir Putin describes the assassination attempts against him

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The slow progress of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has bred discontent within the state security service, the FSB, a source inside the agency has claimed. They added that building pressure within the FSB was shaking the foundations of Putin’s leadership in the Kremlin. 

Vladimir Osechkin, who is at the top of Russia’s most wanted list for his work on prison abuse scandals, said his source within the security service indicated a wave of resentment towards Putin could break over the Russian leader any day now.

Reports have suggested Vladimir Putin has laid the blame for the grindingly slow pace of the invasion at the FSB’s door.

Mr Osechkin told The Times: “For 20 years Putin created stability in Russia.

“FSB officers, policemen, state prosecutors — those people inside the system — were able to live good lives.”

This has changed with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Mr Osechkin said.

He added: “For every week and every month that this war continues, the possibility of a rebellion by those in the security services increases.”

Mr Osechkin described how the lifestyle of FSB officers – historically more moneyed than the average Russian citizen’s – has suffered as the weeks of invasion efforts continue.

A number of FSB agents have been unable to travel to other homes or “take their kids to Disneyland Paris”, he added.

In conjunction with crippling Western sanctions on Russia, the value of the rouble has plunged and FSB agents don’t want to “go back to the Soviet Union”.

Mr Osechkin said the whistleblower went by the handle “wearenotallsadists” and first reached out in October 2021.

This comes after reports that FSB chief and Putin confidant Alexander Bortnikov is being lined up to succeed Putin in an FSB-backed coup.

In a social media post over the weekend, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence claimed “Russia’s elite is considering removing Putin”, adding the provocative tagline of “poisoning, sudden illness, accident”.

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The post claimed that a circle of “influential people” sought to “restore economic ties with the West” by removing Putin “from power as soon as possible”.

It added that the war in Ukraine had “destroyed” these economic bonds crucial for Russia’s prosperity.

They also offered a prediction for Vladimir Putin’s potential successor – a close confidant of the current president.

They alleged Alexander Vasilyevich Bortnikov, who runs the Federal Security Service, would be the one who took the reins from President Putin.

Putin himself is a former intelligence officer for the KGB, and rose to the head of the FSB, which was formed from the KGB.

The Ukrainian Chief Directorate of Intelligence added that the FSB chief and the president had been at loggerheads over the invasion of Ukraine, with Putin laying the blame at Bortnikov’s door for “fatal miscalculations”.

They said: “Bortnikov and his department were responsible for analysing the mood of the population of Ukraine and the capacity of the Ukrainian army.”

Bortnikov and his son, who is chairman of the state VTB Bank, were both slapped with Western sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The intelligence was given to Ukraine by sources in Russia who are involved in “considering various options for removing Putin from power”, the Ukrainians added.

Among these options is assassination, they claimed.

Dr Adam Casey, of the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies at the University of Michigan, has said the chances of a coup taking down Vladimir Putin are much more likely than they were even a month ago.

However, he told Insider it would be a tall order to topple Putin, as a coup is something he has spent years building a defence for.

He said: “The Russian military is not performing in the war in the way that most people expected, and it’s doing quite poorly overall.”

Dr Casey continued: “He’s spent a lot of time and effort designing the Russian security apparatus in a way that sort of makes him relatively invulnerable to coups.”

But, he added: “Things that have motivated coups in other places are present.”

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