Russia descends into farce as paranoid Putin 'arrests man who invented Putinism'

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Reports from Moscow claim that Vladislav Surkov has been detained and is under house arrest. The unconfirmed accounts suggest that Putin’s close ally is being held in a wide-ranging criminal probe that has seen 150 secret agents arrested over Russia’s struggles on the battlefield.

Dubbed President Vladimir Putin’s “main ideologist”, Surkov is said to be the man who encouraged the Russian leader to believe that Ukraine is not a real country and the inventor of Russia’s ‘sovereign democracy’ as a mask for authoritarianism.

The 57-year-old former Kremlin insider is widely regarded as a critical author of Putin’s long-running electoral success.

He has also been one of Putin’s staunchest supporters over the invasion of Ukraine, having overseen Russia’s policy towards Ukraine in the past.

The secretive strategist was known as the ‘grey cardinal’ and ‘Putin’s Rasputin’ due to his influence on the president behind the scenes.

Surkov was formerly appointed deputy head of the Russian presidential administration from 1999 to 2011.

He was then appointed deputy prime minister and given the responsibility of overseeing Russia’s ties with Ukraine and other post-Soviet countries. 

During Surkov’s time in the post, Moscow annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula in 2014 and supported Russian-speaking separatists in Ukraine’s east.

He has previously said: “There is no Ukraine. There is Ukrainianness.”

The case against Surkov reportedly involved the alleged embezzlement of $5 billion (£3.85 billion) by the secret services to create an undercover intelligence network in Ukraine, the Mail Online reported.

The same accusation has also been levelled against over one hundred Federal Security Bureau (FSB) officers, the majority of whom were dismissed this weekend while others were arrested.

Reports from Russia suggest Surkov is under house arrest.

Russian outlet Buninskaya Alleya reported: “More and more sources report that Vladislav Surkov is under house arrest.

READ MORE: ‘Paranoid’ Putin facing ‘potential coup’

“Investigative measures have been carried out allegedly in the case of embezzlement in the Donbas since 2014….It was Surkov who was the representative of the Russian President in Ukraine.”

Telegram channel Druid also reported: “According to our sources, Vladislav Surkov is under house arrest.”

Putin was said to have “purged more than 100 security agents” this weekend, when reports emerged that some 150 Federal Security Bureau (FSB) officers were dismissed and the head of the department responsible for Ukraine was arrested along with a number of other officers.

All of the ousted agents were employed by the Fifth Service, a division set up in 1998 when Putin was director of the FSB to carry out operations in the country of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine.

Sergei Beseda, the spy chief who was tasked with gathering information on Ukraine ahead of the invasion, was placed under house arrest when Russian troops began to struggle on the battlefield.

His unit is also in charge of maintaining official contact with the CIA which may have added to paranoia around potential leaks to US intelligence from its staff.  

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Colonel Beseda was reportedly detained on suspicion of embezzlement. 

He was then moved to Lefortovo, an infamous prison typically used to house those suspected of treason. The high-security prison housed victims of Stalin’s purges in the 1930s. 

Putin is said to be furious at Russia’s intelligence failings in Ukraine, with the Russian leader reportedly furious at the quality of the information the Federal Security Bureau provided in the build up to the war.

Western intelligence agencies have said that Putin thought he was certain of a swift victory in Ukraine and that the invading forces would be welcomed by many.

Instead, Russian forces have been met with staunch resistance from Ukrainian troops and have been forced to retreat from areas around the capital Kyiv.

Putin has also reportedly accused his intelligence chiefs of handing intel to the West to damage Russia’s war effort.



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