Reports of Serious Illness
Numerous reports are circulating online that Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to undergo cancer surgery and therefore has decided to hand over power to a hardline former KGB agent temporarily should that become necessary. Chief among those reporting on this matter is the New York Post.
While the president is incapacitated, power will supposedly be transferred to Nikolai Patrushev, head of the Russian Federation Security Council. This is according to a video put out by the Telegram Channel “General SVR” last Saturday.
The channel, purportedly run by a former Russian Intelligence Service Lieutenant going by the pseudonym of Viktor Mikhailovich, is reporting that Putin has been told by his doctors for a long time that he required surgery for an undisclosed type of cancer.
Keep in mind that these reports are unconfirmed by the Kremlin. The whole matter may be a disinformation campaign used to make the Russian strongman look weak. The Kremlin has always strongly denied Putin has any medical problems and portrays him in robust health, even during several mysterious absences in recent years. I suppose Putin did not go under the knife prior to May 9th because he had to be visible to preside over the majestic Red Square 9 May Victory Day commemoration of the defeat of Hitler and Nazism in Germany.
Many suspected it after his weird meeting sign Shoigu, during which he held on to the table for 13 minutes.
This is probably the clearest video of something being wrong with Putin’s health.
Look at his leg & hand tremors!
Any doctor out there willing to weigh in?
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) April 24, 2022
Video courtesy of Twitter and @visegrad24
One American’s Take on Patrushev
Howard Stoffer is a University of New Haven professor, a nuclear arms control veteran, and one of only a handful of Americans who have ever met Patrushev. The two met when Stoffer was on a counter-terrorism mission to Russia. Stoffer called it “…one of the most amazing meetings I’ve ever had.”
He said of Patrushev, “He’s very serious. I don’t think he’ll do anything rash.”
Stoffer says that if the Post report is accurate (and he believes the report from the Russian-based Telegram messaging system to be correct), then Patrushev will likely not end the war with Ukraine nor launch any nuclear weapons.
Regarding the Russian Security Council Secretary, he went on to say:
“He’s absolutely someone Putin trusts. They came up through the ranks together. This might be something as simple as a colonoscopy. But the Russians remain logical.”
During a UN conference on counter-terrorism right after 9/11, Stoffer got to meet and talk with Patrushev. He said he spoke good English and was willing to share intelligence regarding terrorists with the Americans. The two had dinner together and got to talk for a fair amount of time.
As for Putin’s possible surgery, reports from the Post state that the procedure and recovery are only anticipated to incapacitate the Russian President “for a short time.” But, as I’m reminded by personal experience, medical procedures don’t always go according to plan. It is important for us to know as much as we can about Secretary Patrushev at this point.
This news comes at a time when the CIA says, according to sources at the Associated Press, that Russians disaffected by Putin’s invasion may be trying to get in touch with US intelligence. Russians wanting to share information are being steered to the darknet (again, according to AP).
Last week, the agency began a push to promote its presence on this area of the internet, accessible only through specialized software that allows more anonymity, a big bonus if you are Russian and want to share a secret.
The CIA has a darknet site with the same features as its regular homepage but is accessible only through the Tor internet browser, which has encryption features not available on most regular browsers.