- Vladimir Putin lives in an “information vacuum,” a Russian defector who accompanied him on trips said.
- Gleb Karakulov told the Dossier Center that Putin doesn’t use a cellphone or the internet.
- Putin instead gathers information from secret service reports and Russian TV news channels, he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lives in an “information vacuum” and avoids using a cellphone or the internet to receive information, according to a senior Russian intelligence officer who defected last year.
Putin instead chooses to gather information from his inner circle and state TV news channels, Gleb Karakulov, a former engineer and captain in the Presidential Communications Directorate of the Federal Guard Service, told the Dossier Center for Investigative Journalism.
He said his own role involved encrypting Putin’s communications and regularly accompanying him on international trips, first traveling with Putin on a business trip in October 2009, per the Dossier Center.
Karakulov said he has been on over 180 trips since he started working for the Federal Guard Service.
But on one trip in October 2022, to Kazakhstan, Karakulov fled to Turkey with his family, becoming the highest-ranking intelligence officer to defect to the West in Russia’s recent history, according to the Dossier Center.
In a wide-ranging interview with the investigative outlet, which is funded by the exiled Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Karakulov offered a unique insight into how Putin gets his information.
“In all my years of service, I haven’t seen him once with a mobile phone,” Karakulov said, per the Dossier Center.
“He doesn’t use the internet or a mobile phone,” Karakulov added. “He only receives information from his closest circle, which means that he lives in an information vacuum.”
Putin generally gathers information from secret service intelligence reports, as well as Russian TV news channels, according to Karakulov. “The President insists on having Russian television in every venue he stays in,” he said.
Later in the interview, Karakulov said that Putin had “lost touch with the world,” spent the majority of his time in his residences, and was “pathologically afraid for his life.”
The high-ranking defector said he ultimately made the decision to leave Russia because he came to believe that Putin was a “war criminal.”
Last month, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of being personally responsible for unlawfully deporting children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.