Russian President Vladimir Putin is obsessive and neurotic about his own personal safety, according to a former Russian intelligence official who left his country because of the conflict in Ukraine.
Gleb Karakulov has come forward to discuss Putin after leaving the country. Karakulov was a captain with the Federal Guard Service of Russia (FSO), which is in charge of protecting Vladimir Putin.
When Putin visited Kazakhstan in October, he managed to flee to Turkey when he was there with Putin. His duties included providing encrypted communications for Putin.
He is also asking former colleagues of his to turn on the Kremlin.
Karakulov depicted an isolated, out-of-touch leader living in an information vacuum in his heavily guarded residences, which he described as “bunkers”.
“[Putin] has shut himself off from the world,” Karakulov, 35, told the Dossier Center, a Russian investigative journalism project which was founded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oligarch who is now one of Putin’s biggest critics.
“His take on reality has become distorted.”
Karakulov is the highest-ranking member of Russia’s special services to have defected since the start of the war. He revealed that Putin had set up a secure line in a bomb shelter in the Russian embassy in Astana, the Kazakh capital, for his visit to the country last year.
“It is a kind of paranoia,” he said. “He is pathologically afraid for his life.”
He also confirmed that Putin secretly works from identical offices in several residences across Russia as a security measure. In some cases, he said, state television showed Putin holding meetings at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence near Moscow when he knew for a fact that he was still in Sochi, the Black Sea resort city.
“When Putin was in Sochi, [FSO officers] would deliberately pretend that he was leaving. They would bring a plane, and a motorcade would set off. While in actual fact, he would stay in Sochi,” Karakulov, who joined the FSO in 2009, said.
“This is a ruse to confuse foreign intelligence, in the first place; and secondly, to prevent any attempts on his life.”
He says the Kremlin is also still implementing strict measures to try and protect the Russian president from coronavirus.