Putin officer defects and says ‘paranoid’ president lives in a bunker and is terrified of Covid

Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP)
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A protection officer for Vladimir Putin has defected and labelled the Russian president a “paranoid war criminal”.

Gleb Karakulov, 35, had served as an engineer in the Federal Guard Service (FSO) presidential communications unit and said he has fled Russia over the war in Ukraine.

Mr Karakulov escaped to safety via Istanbul while on a business trip to Kazakhstan in October 2022 after accompanying president Putin on more than 180 trips over the past 13 years. It is unclear where the 35-year-old is now.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP)

Mr Karakulov’s wife and daughter also escaped separately via Kazakhstan and Istanbul.

The former FSO officer claims president Putin opts to stay “in his bunker” rather than make trips because he is so paranoid about an assassination attempt. The Russian president also allegedly travels with a 2.5 meter high box to prevent his secret talks from leaking and Western bugging.

He also claimed that the Russian president is isolating for a fourth year in a row, out of fear of becoming infected with Covid-19, and staff can only work in the same room as Putin once they have been in isolation for two weeks.

President Putin does not use a mobile phone or the internet, meaning his knowledge of events is filtered via the secret services - and what he watches on state-controlled Russian TV, according to Mr Karakulov.

Speaking about the war in Ukraine, Mr Karakulov issued an appeal to officers to come forward with evidence about Putin as a “war criminal,” saying the war is “beyond the pale” and “defies reason”.

Gleb Karakulov, 35 (Khodorkovsky live/east2west news)
Gleb Karakulov, 35 (Khodorkovsky live/east2west news)

“How many nameless victims of this war are there, how many of them are children? How many more such victims are required before you stop putting up with it?” he said.

“What is happening now in Ukraine, all this destruction, this war of aggression, terrorism, and genocide of the Ukrainian people - there is no other word for it - all this is a criminal offence.

“Our president has become a war criminal.”

The former FSO officer said he is unaware of Mr Putin’s alleged relationship with gymnast Alina Kabaeva, 39, and their young children, but confirmed the Russian president has a £1billion cliff-top palace at Gelendzhik on the Black Sea, and a private yacht Scheherazade, that president Putin is alleged to have funnelled millions in illicit funds into, as earlier revealed by Russia’s independent media.

Responding to rumours of the Russian president being terminally ill, Mr Karakulov said he is unaware of any credible information that Mr Putin has or has had cancer in the past, claiming it is not something discussed amongst his colleagues.

“If he has any health issues, they must be due to his age. Well, he probably does have them. But it is nothing too serious, I guess,” Mr Karakulov said.