According to reports, dissent over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s leadership is slowly gaining steam within the Kremlin. From normal citizens all the way to high-ranking generals, many are extremely dissatisfied with the invasion of Ukraine. The public does not want an invasion, while generals are frustrated about the lack of progress. As a result, reports have surfaced that a number of former generals and members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) are planning to oust Putin from the presidency.

Russia’s intelligence branch, the FSB, has been reported to be very frustrated with Putin, who was once part of both the KGB and later FSB. According to reports, they were frustrated about the lack of military progress and advancements in Ukraine. Many also see the war in Ukraine as a widescale mistake and an economic disaster. This is the reason why members of the FSB had reached out to former Russian generals and military officials to plan a coup.

The “Siloviki” (or a “Silovik”) is a group of Russian politicians who came from military service, with many of these politicians coming from the KGB, GRU, FSB, SVR, FSO, the Federal Drug Control Service. This term refers to “people of force” or, quite literally, “strongmen” in political science terms. These individuals often have a “military-style” of leadership and are very pragmatic law-and-order focus.

Certain members of this group, mostly from the FSB, are supposedly working together with former generals and other military (or security branches) to oust Putin from power and reform the government.

Russian Security Expert from the Center for European Policy Analysis Andrei Soldatov claimed that these reports “matter a lot” as it was the first time in decades that the siloviki are allegedly plotting against a sitting president.

“The Russian President has been bracing for a coup for some weeks as has faced fierce criticism over his ‘special operation’ in Ukraine, and he has purged around 150 of his spies over the constant failures,” he continued.

FSB Headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Moscow (FSB Headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Moscow (FSB Headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Moscow (FSB Headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Moscow (FSB Headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Moscow (© Vyacheslav Argenberg / http://www.vascoplanet.com/, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KGB-FSB_headquarters,_Lubyanka_Square,_Moscow,_Russia.jpg
FSB Headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Moscow (FSB Headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Moscow (© Vyacheslav Argenberg / http://www.vascoplanet.com/CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons).

SOFREP was one of the media outlets that first reported on Putin’s efforts to purge the FSB following the disastrous campaign to invade Kyiv and install a puppet government. Sources told us that the FSB was being blamedby Putin for the failure of the Russians to take Kyiv. The FSB’s Fifth Service, headed by Sergey Beseda and his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh, was placed on house arrest as they were responsible for collecting intel on Ukraine prior to the invasion.

In fact, it was also Soldatov and his anonymous source that also reported on the FSB being purged. However, it is not Beseda’s entire fault that they gave Putin the wrong information. Inside sources reveal that the FSB has to write intel reports in a way that gives Russia the advantage or else face the wrath of Putin. Thus, they would skew results and intel so that they could appease the president. This is why Putin was misled with his invasion of Ukraine.

“The problem is that it is too risky for superiors to tell Putin what he doesn’t want to hear, so they tailor their information. The tailoring probably takes place somewhere between the rank of colonel and general in the FSB. We can’t rule out the fact that the intelligence they gathered on the ground was, in fact, very good,” Soldatov said.

As of writing, Putin has purged 150 Russian spies from the service. These purges may have contributed to dissent towards his leadership as the spies, and high-ranking military personnel found their dismissal unfair and unjust. Fueling the fire to this dissent towards him is the fact that nine Russian generals have been killed in his war in Ukraine, an abnormally large number given that the war has only been going on for three months. More so, 30 to 40 high-ranking military officers ranging from colonels to generals have been killed fighting in Ukraine due to their lackluster and misplanned advances. Currently, Russian losses in Ukraine are at 24,900 troops, a huge blow to Russian morale.

Alexey Muraviev, a Russian analyst, has also come forward on Sky News Australia to say that he thinks Putin is facing real coup threats from his very own military and intelligence chiefs.

“I think that sort of false narrative was presented to them by the Supreme Commander in Chief, and when it fired back when the Russians began taking heavy casualties, Putin began quietly blaming the security services,” he said.

Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov before a meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons). Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Security_Council_Meeting_2019-11-22_(1).jpg
Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov before a meeting of the Security Council of the Russian Federation (Kremlin.ruCC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Ukrainian military intelligence unit has also claimed that the Russian elite actively plotting against Putin is planning to put FSB head Alexander Bortnikov as Putin’s successor.

“In the Russian economic and political elite, a group of influential people opposed to Vladimir Putin is emerging,” they reported. “Their aim is to overthrow Putin as soon as possible and restore the economic ties with the West that were destroyed as a result of the war against Ukraine.”

Not only does the FSB want Putin out, but they also believe that the invasion of Ukraine will likely end in “total failure.” An insider in close contact with Russian human rights watchdog “Gulagu,” headed by Vladimir Osechkin, revealed that certain people from the FSB thought “there was no option for a possible victory.”

With normal Russian citizens and members of the Russian military and intelligence services turning on their leader, can the Russians oust Vladimir Putin as sources seem to suggest? Retired FSB Colonel and Putin critic Gennady Gudkov think it is “wishful thinking” as any coup is prepared in highly secretive environments, so leaks such as these would not come out that easy.

As we have seen recently, invasion plans can be leaked out too sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily stop the invasion from taking place, but perhaps just its timing.

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