There is a little hype around the Russian president. Recently, a number of close people had to leave, including General Roman Gavrilov. “He would have been fired because he opposed Putin’s combat plans,” says Russian expert Hubert Smits. And yesterday, it was said that Anatoly Chubais, who played an important role in Russia for twenty years, was seen in Istanbul.
Hubert Smeets also mentions another example: Sergej Beseda. He was to be placed under house arrest. “It is no coincidence that it was precisely Beseda who should have made sure that Russia had spies in important places in Ukraine who could transmit information. Perhaps this information was not correct or he failed to establish the network.”
So much to lose
Who then stays in the circle around Putin? Smits has his doubts: “Putin will essentially surround himself with a group of confidants and officials whom he has known sometimes for decades.” He knows most of them from his time in the KGB, the main intelligence service of the former Soviet Union.
“You can assume that they support Putin’s plans,” Smits says. “Because if you don’t, you can lose a lot.” In this way, the fallen leaders lose their power, but also financial support from the Kremlin. This is why people close to Putin think twice before contradicting him.
Not enough information
So no one will change Putin’s opinion. This is dangerous. “One of the biggest threats to dictators is that they are no longer objectively informed about what is going on.” This is also called a file Dictator’s Trap mentioned. This is an English term for the phenomenon that the dictators began to make mistakes, because they were no longer sufficiently informed.
This danger also threatens Putin. With an eclectic group of the same confidants, Smits says, Putin becomes less familiar with the war he is waging. And then Putin may also miss important information.
Thus, the set of pumps formed by Putin himself could become an obstacle for him. “Take the Ukrainian opposition, for example. It has been underestimated by the Kremlin.” According to Smits, there are two possible reasons for this: “either the security services were not adequately informed, or they did not dare to tell Putin.”
Putin’s policies, for example, appear dangerous to himself. But it doesn’t stop there: “If he’s not knowledgeable enough and finds out what’s going on or if he has setbacks again, he can do crazy things.” And even then, perhaps no one around Putin will slow him down.
Eva Hartog: ‘Those close are basically subjects’
Putin is trying to show the outside world that everything is going according to plan, but we see cracks and tears, says Russia correspondent Eva Hartog. Not everything that is beautiful is what Putin wants from us and the Russian people believe in. “
So far, none of Putin’s confidants have publicly distanced themselves from the president. But that doesn’t mean nothing happens behind the scenes, Hartog emphasizes. “We just don’t hear it. There is a lot of speculation about the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu. He reappeared yesterday, but he’s been gone for about two weeks. There are signs and indications that there is unrest within an elite.”
“We always thought Putin had a small group of people around him who advised him,” Hartog says. “But now there seems to be more of a hierarchy where one person makes all the decisions without being notified: Putin. Those close to him are basically his subjects.”
This was well reflected on February 21: it was the last time Putin was seen with those close to him on Russian television. “There is something really special: Putin behaved very aggressively and the people around him seemed very insecure and anxious. For example, one of the strongmen, the head of espionage, began to stutter. This shows that all decisions are made by one person, without Schauer.”
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