Vladimir Putin is set to purge the top ranks of his Kremlin elite, according to a Russian dissident. The move is allegedly an attempt to stave off a possible coup by disgruntled members of the Russian President’s inner circle. Discontent about the handling of the war in Ukraine has been simmering within the the Kremlin for a while now.
There have been repeated rumours that support for Putin’s war among those closest to the President has been on the wane, particularly amongst Russia’s generals.
Moreover, a recent US intelligence report claimed that one Kremlin insider recently openly confronted the Russian leader over his war failures.
The incident was deemed so unusual, that it was included in the US President’s daily intelligence briefing on October 7th.
A Western intelligence official told the Washington Post that they had witnessed “growing alarm from a number of Putin’s inner circle.”
They added that Kremlin insiders were “particularly exercised by recent Russian losses, misguided direction and extensive military shortcomings.”
The disquiet among Russia’s elite would appear to have spurred Putin into drastic action.
Vladimir Osechkin, a fugitive human rights activist, alleged the Kremlin despot was about to shake up the top ranks of his power base in a sweeping purge.
According to the dissident, Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov has been pencilled in to take over the National Guard (Rosgvardia) from the present incumbent Viktor Zolotov, a former bodyguard.
The National Guard has been dubbed Putin’s private army, and reports directly to the Russian president – therefore appointing Kadyrov would be a significant move and would likely herald in a period of greater repression.
Others for the chop include the head of the FSB Alexander Bornitkov and the under fire Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.
Mr Osechkin suggested that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, would be placed in charge of the FSB, while General Surovikin would be made the new Defence Minister.
General Surovikin, nicknamed “the Cannibal”, was just last week installed as overall Russian commander for the war in Ukraine.
READ MORE: Terror reigns at Russian military base as attackers kill 11 soldiers
He has been placed on a wanted list by the Russian state, after leaking a large archive of documents, photos and videos documenting hundreds of cases of rape and torture of inmates in Russian prisons.
The activist told reporters in September that he may have been targeted for assassination recently.
He reported seeing a red dot appear on the wall of his home in Biarritz, before gunshots were heard nearby.
Mr Osechkin said the incident could have been a “psychological attack” to scare him or a botched effort to kill him.
French authorities are investigating alleged death threats as part of broader protection measures, but say there is no evidence of an assassination attempt.