- Vitaly Brizhaty, a former member of Putin’s protection service, says the Russian leader “fears for his life.”
- Putin makes multiple fake travel plans to keep even his own officers in the dark, he said.
- Brizhaty, who fled to Ecuador, said Putin is a war criminal and condemned the invasion of Ukraine.
A former member of President Vladimir Putin’s protection service says the Russian leader is so paranoid he doesn’t even trust his own guards.
Vitaly Brizhaty, who worked for the Federal Protection Service, known as the FSO, at a palace used by Putin in occupied Crimea, has fled to Ecuador and is speaking out about his experiences, according to Radio Free Europe.
In an interview with independent Russian outlet TV Rain, Brizhaty said he worked at the massive palace at Oliva, a state-owned building on Crimea’s southern coast that is widely understood to be used by Putin.
So fragile is Putin’s trust in his own security service that he will announce he is arriving at the Crimean palace via two different airports, but is just as likely to take a different route and arrive by sea, Brizhaty said, according to RFE’s translation of his remarks.
“That’s how much this man fears for his life,” it reported him as saying.
FSO staff are also cut off from communicating with anyone in the EU, the US, or Ukrainian relatives, as well as anyone who opposes the war, Brizhaty said.
Brizhaty fled Russia after his wife gained a work permit in Ecuador, resulting in him being dismissed from the service and enabling him to join her there, he told TV Rain.
Brizhaty was reported as decrying the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying Putin is a war criminal.
He is the second FSO officer to condemn Putin over the Ukraine war after leaving the service.
In April, Karakulov told the independent Russian outlet the Dossier Center that Putin prefers to travel by train, which cannot be tracked the same way planes can. His train runs on a secret schedule, and officers would be expected to join Putin on one of them at a moment’s notice, he said.
Putin’s use of the Oliva complex — which reportedly has the peninsula’s only competition-level ice hockey rink — was first reported by independent Russian outlet Proekt in 2019.