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A mass purge of 150 security officials has reportedly been ordered by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin in the wake of his botched invasion of Ukraine.
Russia has faced humiliation over the invasion. Although Putin's forces have laid waste to several cities and have brutally killed thousands of Ukrainians, the wheels came off early on and the campaign spectacularly failed to achieve its goal of clinching victory within 72 hours.
The officers are said to be from the FSB security service, which is the successor to the KGB, with some removed from their posts while others have been arrested, reports The Mirror.
All of those ousted were said to be employees of the Fifth Service, a division that was set up in 1998 when Putin was director of the FSB to perform operations in former Soviet Union countries.
Col Gen Sergei Beseda, 68, head of the Fifth Service, had been under house arrest but he has now been thrown into the notorious Lefortovo Prison, suggesting he will face major charges for intelligence failings, it is claimed.
The Lefortovo jail held political prisoners during the Soviet era and is routinely used to incarcerate suspected traitors.
Heartbreaking photo of woman collapsing in grief over her Ukrainian husband’s body
The purge was reported by Christo Grozev, executive director of Bellingcat, an investigative news organisation.
He claimed the officer had been dismissed for “reporting false information to the Kremlin about the real situation in Ukraine before the invasion”.
Grozev told Popular Politics, a YouTube channel about Russian current affairs: “I can say that although a significant number of them have not been arrested, they will no longer work for the FSB.”
Putin had been convinced by secret services briefings that his troops would be welcomed by many Ukrainians, and achieve a speedy victory. But in reality they have faced implacable opposition, and have been driven back in many places, including around Kyiv.
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The purge will be seen as a warning to other senior Putin aides who are expected to take the blame for the huge Russian death toll in Ukraine.
Beseda’s case is being investigated by the Military Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee, said Russian intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov, who revealed the Lefortovo move.
Beseda, in charge of FSB intelligence and political subversion in the former USSR, had been on a trip to Ukraine shortly before he was detained.
Putin is said to fear that moles leaked invasion plans to the West, and Beseda was detained along with his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh, whose status remains unclear.
- Vladimir Putin
- Russia Ukraine war
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