A protection officer who worked directly for Vladimir Putin has defected from Russia, labelling the Kremlin despot a ‘war criminal’ for his invasion of Ukraine. Gleb Karakulov (pictured), 35, is a captain in the Federal Guard Service, known as the FGS or FSO, who escaped Russia to safety via Istanbul.
Now, he has revealed in an interview that Putin is so paranoid about his personal security, assassination attempts and health and that he opts to stay ‘in his bunker’ rather than make regular trips across the country like he used to. Karakulov added that the Russian despot is ‘mortally afraid’ of Covid and is isolating for the fourth year, and that he never uses a mobile phone out of fear of being bugged by the West – instead taking a special communications box with him.
Karakulov added that the Russian despot is ‘mortally afraid’ of Covid and is isolating for the fourth year, and that he never uses a mobile phone out of fear of being bugged by the West – instead taking a special communications box with him.
Dossier independent media – which revealed Karakulov’s testimony – claims he is the highest ranking defector so far from Putin’s immediate security circle.
Karakulov, an engineer who worked in the FGS since 2009, had access to Putin’s personal communications, Dossier has reported.
The protection officer was reportedly responsible for earlier leaks about Putin’s armoured train, which he is understood to use on his increasingly rare trips across Russia out of fear that his presidential plane could be shot down from the skies.
The leaks said the train is camouflaged in grey and red to look like a Russian normal passenger train, making it visually almost indistinguishable from the rest.
Putin’s paranoia is also shown by the fact he never uses a mobile phone. ‘I mean, in all my years of service, I haven’t seen him once with a mobile phone,’ Karakulov said.
The Russian leader is so concerned about Western bugging that he takes a special box with him on foreign trips to prevent his secret talks from leaking.
‘With Putin… he doesn’t use the internet or a mobile phone. He only receives information from his closest circle, which means that he lives in an information vacuum,’ Karakulov said.
This means his knowledge of events is filtered via the secret services – and what he watches on state controlled Russian TV.
Western analysts have long suspected that Putin has not been receiving accurate reports from his generals and others in his close-knit circle about the situation on the ground in Ukraine, out of fear of his wrath should be be told bad news.
This is demonstrated by his guards, who ‘call him the Boss, worship him in every way and only ever talk of him in those terms’, according to Karakulov.
Asked if Putin is always in ‘lockdown’, Karakulov replied: ‘Yes, he is. We still have a self-isolating president. We have to observe a strict quarantine for two weeks before any event, even those lasting 15 to 20 minutes.
‘There is a pool of employees who have been cleared – who underwent this two-week quarantine. They are [considered] “clean” and can work in the same room as Putin.’
However, asked about rumours of Putin being terminally ill, he appeared unaware of credible information that the dictator has had or still has cancer.
‘It was not something my colleagues discussed,’ he told Dossier. ‘If he has any health issues, they must be due to his age. Well, he probably does have them. But it is nothing too serious, I guess.’
He added: ‘I can tell you that I went on many business trips with him, and he went on many trips before 2020. After that he stayed in his bunker and maybe made just one, maximum, three business trips a year.
‘Given the fact that there had been many business trips, only one or two were cancelled because of his health.’
Putin would often travel across Russia to shore-up his public image as a man of the people. However, since the Covid-19 pandemic and his invasion of Ukraine, these trips have declined in number. When he does travel, his trips are heavily stage managed – with some suggesting that he even employs a body double.
Rumours about the Russian president’s declining health, mental state and unstable position within the Kremlin have swirled since long before he ordered the illegal invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
In the year since, the rumours have only intensified as the war appears to have taken its toll on the president, who has been seen in frequent videos released by Russia clutching on to a desk to steady himself and awkwardly shuffling his feet.
Some reports have suggested he has cancer or Parkinson’s disease.
In addition to the reports on Puton’s health, Karakulov seemed unaware of Putin’s private life with gymnast Alina Kabaeva, 39, and their young children.
But he confirmed Putin has a £1billion cliff-top palace at Gelendzhik on the Black Sea, and the private yacht Scheherazade, as earlier revealed by Russia’s independent media.
Reports of the despot’s extravagant wealth and of his secret lover – believed to be hidden away from the public eye – are understood to have infuriated Putin, who styles himself as a hero of the people of Russia, where the standard of living is low.
He issued an appeal to other officers to come forward with evidence about Putin as a ‘war criminal’.
‘I would like to address Russian officers, including the FGS officers,’ he said.
‘You have information that is not broadcast on television. I have only seen a tiny part of it. Come forward, support me [with more evidence]. You will help our citizens to learn the truth.
‘I am sure that you had questions about the Commander-in-Chief’s actions before, but the oath forced you not to ask [them] and to smoothly execute his orders.
‘However, what is happening now [with the war in Ukraine] is beyond the pale, it defies reason. You mustn’t follow criminal orders and serve this war criminal, Vladimir Putin. And I consider him a war criminal,’ he said.
Karakulov said the invasion of Ukraine ‘is simply beyond comprehension’.
‘Multiple rocket launchers are being used, residential buildings and critical infrastructure are being hit.
‘How many nameless victims of this war are there, how many of them are children? How many more such victims are required before you stop putting up with it?
‘What is happening now in Ukraine, all this destruction, this war of aggression, terrorism, and genocide of the Ukrainian people – there is no other word for it – all this is a criminal offence.
‘Our president has become a war criminal.’
Last month, Putin was charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He is accused of the illegal deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.
Vast amounts of evidence shows that several other laws outlined by the United Nations have also been broken by Russian forces.
Karakulov urged those still inside Putin’s security service: ‘You have to stop following these criminal orders. The FGS [FSO] officers are around the president all the time. You can just go in and indicate that this is a crime.
‘It is up to you to stop this madness very quickly. I wish you would do that because it would save many lives.’
In a message to the Russian people he said: ‘Our president has lost touch with the world. He has been living in an information cocoon for the past couple of years, spending most of his time in his residences, which the media very fittingly call bunkers.
‘He is pathologically afraid for his life. He surrounds himself with an impenetrable barrier of quarantines and an information vacuum.
‘He only values his own life and the lives of his family and friends. The lives of your family and friends are of no interest to him.
‘By tearing men from their families and sending them to be slaughtered in sovereign Ukraine, he shows he does not care in the least about what is happening to our country and Ukraine, about the fact that he brings trouble, destruction, and death to the brotherly people of Ukraine and to us.’
The ‘criminal war’ must be ended as soon as possible, he said. ‘Life is the highest value. We have forgotten it in this country. People are considered cannon fodder.
‘This will continue to be the case as long as we remain silent. This war has to end and it is time to break the silence.’
Karakulov – who worked since 2009 in the FGS – escaped when he was sent on a business trip to Kazakhstan to prepare for a Putin visit.
On this trip in October 2022 – during the war – Putin had his own bomb shelter, said the defector. ‘It is a kind of paranoia,’ he said. Putin ‘is simply afraid’.
Karakulov’s wife and daughter escaped separately also via Kazakhstan and Istanbul.
‘They are not running after me with Novichok [nerve agent] yet, but they have already gone to see my relatives, and I think that the reason for this sluggish interest in me is that they think: ‘There are plenty more of such engineers, one more, one less, who cares!’
He is under investigation in Russia for ‘desertion’.
The captain had installed special communications links for Putin in his planes, helicopters, yachts and armoured train.
He increasingly uses the train ‘because it is less conspicuous.
‘Planes show up on certain [databases]. Whereas a train, how many of these grey trains are there? Most importantly, they cannot be tracked on any information resource. It’s done for stealth purposes.’
He said: ‘The President also has a telephone booth we take on every foreign trip. It is a place from which you can conduct talks with guaranteed confidentiality.
‘The booth is, of course, bulky. It is a cube about 2.5 meters high.
‘Inside there is a workstation and a telephone, which one can use to talk without fear of these conversations being overheard or read by foreign intelligence.’
This box always travels abroad along with Putin’s nuclear suitcase which he can use to unleash atomic war.
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