Nikolai Patrushev: Putin’s replacement for operation ‘authorised poisonings and killings’

Putin ‘started war to secure his power’ says Browder

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Patrushev reportedly one of the only people the Russian President trusts, covered for the President while he underwent alleged cancer surgery last week. According to Telegram Chanel General SVR, which claims to be getting information from inside the Kremlin, the operation was “successful”, and Putin has been seen publicly since. But rumours about the Russian President’s health have persisted, with a string of reports in recent weeks.

The Kremlin strongman’s appearance and behaviour in public has sparked fresh speculation that, aside from cancer, he might have a neurological condition such as Parkinson’s Disease.

With the despot increasingly under pressure to deliver a victory in Ukraine, the number of close advisers he will listen to has grown smaller and smaller.

However, one person who is still said to have the ear of the Russian President is his right-hand man Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s security council, and the man who stepped in to cover for Putin while he received his reported treatment.

Often said to be the second-most powerful man in Russia, Patrushev is one of three loyal followers of Putin who have been with him since the Seventies in St Petersburg.

The two men are both former KGB operatives and both went on to head its successor organisation, the FSB, Russia’s domestic security service.

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Like his boss, Patrushev has reportedly had a hand in silencing Kremlin opposers, according to former US Defense Intelligence Agency officer Rebekah Koffler, the author of ‘Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America’.

Writing for the New York Post this month, she said: “Both men have likely authorised the poisonings and killings of many Russian ‘enemies’.

“As Head of the FSB, Patrushev led a counter-terrorism program calling for the ‘liquidation of the leaders of the Chechen separatist movement’.

“Patrushev dispatched FSB operatives to hunt down and kill Chechen fighters, including Shamil Basayev in July 2006 and Aslan Maskhadov in March 2005.”

Patrushev was also named as the Russian official who gave the order for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian spy.

After serving in the FSB and KGB, Litvinenko defected from Russia to work for the British secret service MI6.

He was killed in London in 2006 after ingesting radioactive polonium-210, which is thought to have been given to him in a cup of tea.

The UK public inquiry into his death found that he was killed by Russian agents, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun.

Their orders were “probably” given by Patrushev, then the head of the FSB, and Putin, according to Sir Robert Owen, who chaired the probe.

After leaving intelligence, Litvinenko had accused Patrushev and Putin of being behind the bombing of apartment blocks in Moscow and other Russian cities in 1999.

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His allegations that the FSB was behind the attacks, which killed between 200 and 300 people, came in his book, ‘Blowing up Russia: Terror from Within’.

Ms Koffler claimed the bombings allowed Patrushev and Putin “to blame Chechen terrorists and give Russia a pretext to unleash war on Chechnya”.

She added: “As a result, the popularity of then-Prime Minister Putin rose, helping him secure the Russian presidency in March 2000.”

Since becoming head of the security council in 2008, Patrushev has had a major influence on Kremlin decision-making.

Ms Koffler said: “Patrushev has almost certainly influenced the country’s modern military doctrine, which formally codified NATO as Russia’s top security threat.”

NATO is one of the reasons Putin invaded Ukraine as the despot did not want the country to join the Western-aligned security bloc.

Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky has since accepted that his nation is unlikely to become a member of the alliance.

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