Putin Throws Out 150 Intelligence Agents

Putin Throws Out 150 Intelligence Agents

(RightWing.org) – Reports from Russia say the country’s strongman president has started purging his intelligence services. It seems Vladimir Putin isn’t happy with the advice he’s been getting and has reacted in an historically Russian way.

On April 11, The Times of London reported Putin fired up to 150 FSB officers – and arrested some of them – in a “Stalinist” purge. The FSB is Russia’s Federal Security Service, formed from the Soviet-era KGB. It’s mainly responsible for internal security, while the SVR carries out foreign intelligence. However, when Putin was FSB director from 1998-99, he created the FSB’s Fifth Service, responsible for intelligence gathering in former Soviet republics like Ukraine.

The FSB Fifth Service was heavily involved in planning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Its teams for each former Soviet republic have 10-20 members, but the Ukraine team had expanded to over 200 officers by this past February. Now, Putin believes they’ve been feeding him inaccurate information, and he’s lashing out.

According to The Times, authorities placed the Fifth Service’s chief, Sergei Beseda, under house arrest last month, and now they’ve sent him to the notorious Lefortovo Prison. During Stalin’s purges in the 1930s, the dictator tortured and executed thousands of victims at Lefortovo.

Authorities also arrested Beseda’s deputy and raided the homes of more than 20 FSB officers suspected of talking to journalists. The government fired at least 100 officers but hasn’t arrested them (yet).

Putin is a former Lieutenant-Colonel in the KGB’s foreign intelligence service; Russia’s powerful and secretive intelligence agencies are tools he understands and uses frequently. Now his trust in those tools has been shaken. What does that mean for his imperial ambitions in the former Soviet republics?

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