Mikhail Kimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images
- Vladimir Putin has replicas of his offices across Russia, a former intelligence officer said.
- Putin’s aim is to conceal his location and “confuse foreign intelligence,” he said.
- The officer, who defected from Russia, shed light on Putin’s paranoia and obsession with safety.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has built replicas of his office in several of his residences so no one knows where he is, per a Russian intelligence officer who defected.
Gleb Karakulov, a former engineer and captain in Russia’s Federal Guard Service who worked with Putin’s security detail, shed light on the Russian leader’s paranoia and obsession with safety in an interview with the Dossier Center for Investigative Journalism.
Karakulov told the Dossier Center that offices in Putin’s residences in St. Petersburg, Sochi, and Novo-Ogaryovo had been designed to look identical.
He said there were times when he knew Putin was in one location, but a TV news broadcast showed him conducting a meeting that it said was taking place elsewhere.
It was reported in 2020 that Putin had also built a replica of his Moscow office at his Black Sea palace of Bocharov Ruchey. A Kremlin spokesperson denied the report then and called it an “informational attack.”
Karakulov said that Putin sometimes further obscured his location by sending his motorcade to the airport despite remaining at home.
“The guys used to joke that when Putin was in Sochi, they would deliberately pretend he was leaving. They would bring a plane, a motorcade would set off. While in actual fact, he would stay in Sochi,” Karakulov said.
“This is a ruse to confuse foreign intelligence, in the first place, and secondly, to prevent any attempts on his life,” he added.
Karakulov also claimed that Putin traveled in a nondescript grey train to avoid using planes that can be monitored on flight trackers.
In the lengthy interview with the Dossier Center, which exiled Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky funds, Karakulov depicted the Russian leader as increasingly isolated and fearful.
“He is pathologically afraid for his life,” Karakulov said.
He revealed that Putin lives in an “information vacuum” as he avoids using a cell phone or the internet and spends most of his time at his various residences. As a result, he has “lost touch with the world,” the officer said.
His intense isolation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Karakulov said, which prompted Putin cut himself off from human contact and implement strict quarantine periods for anyone who wanted to meet him in person.
He said that Putin is still extremely paranoid about catching the virus, forcing his aides to take PCR tests several times a day.