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Paranoid Putin uses bodyguard to operate washing machine, ex-security officer says

Paranoid Putin uses bodyguard to operate washing machine, ex-security officer says

Russian President Vladimir Putin is so paranoid about being assassinated that he does not allow anyone but one of his bodyguards to use washing machines at his residence in Crimea – and also employs armed divers to scour the waters around his private beaches for possible threats, according to a defector.

Vitaly Brizhaty, a former dog handler for Russia’s shadowy Federal Protection Service who fled to Ecuador after the start of the Ukraine war, shed light on Putin’s state of mind in a recent interview with the independent Russian television station TV Rain.

“This is how much that man fears for his life,” Brizhaty said of the increasingly isolated Russian leader.

Staffers at his estates mostly belong to the security apparatus or have a high-security clearance.

“Even the position of washing machine operator had to be staffed by an officer,” Brizhaty said.

The ex-FSO officer claimed that Putin, 70, did not fully trust his own security detail at Olivye – one of his secret estates in the Russia-annexed Crimea – and would routinely give false information about his travel plans.

Vitaly Brizhaty, a former Federal Protection Service employee
Vitaly Brizhaty, a former dog handler for Russia’s Federal Protection Service, said that Vladimir Putin is so paranoid that he has one of his bodyguards operate washing machines at his Crimea dacha.
TV Rain

“People were told ‘he’s resting at the dacha’ and everybody is running around guarding him but he could be in another place altogether,” said Brizhaty, who previously served at Olivye and described it as a “fantastical place.”

“There are fitness halls, fountains, beautiful parks, tea houses, barbecue zones and its own beach,” he said of the palace, which shares a name with a beloved and ubiquitous Russian potato salad.

According to the whistleblower, Putin’s luxurious dacha functioned like a “mini-city” that had to be stocked with fresh produce and flowers at all times, and staffed 24 hours a day in case the president or a high-ranking guest decided to pay an unexpected visit.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) surrounded by bodyguards attends a wreath laying ceremony at the monument of Minin and Pozharsky in Red Square on November, 4, 2013 in Moscow
The whistleblower said that the Russian president is very concerned for his safety and does not even fully trust his security detail.
Getty Images

“If food spoils, most likely it is just thrown out and new food is purchased,” Brizhaty said.

In the middle of all the opulence and excess, Brizhaty said personal safety was Putin’s top priority. Since the start of the war in Feb. 2022, security at Olivye has been significantly stepped up, with the number of guard dogs patrolling the property increasing from two to six.

Staffers were required to hand in their cellphones when arriving at work at the residence, where use of smartphones was strictly forbidden, according to the former officer.

To protect the security-obsessed president from any attempts on his life not only by land but also by sea, a team of FSO divers brandishing firearms were tasked with swimming around Putin’s private Black Sea beaches.

“Security there is of the highest order,” Brizhaty confirmed.

Putin’s sprawling seaside residence is flanked on either side by impressive dachas belonging to Dmitry Medvedev, former president and current deputy chairman of the Security Council, and Alexander Bortnikov, director of the much-feared Federal Security Service.

In this image from video provided by the Dossier Center, a London-based investigative group funded by Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Gleb Karakulov speaks during an interview in Turkey in December 2022
Brizhaty’s account dovetails with that of fellow defector Gleb Karakulov, who said that Putin has installed replicas of his Kremlin office at his other residence to confuse his enemies.

Brizhaty’s account very closely mirrors that of another defector, Gleb Karakulov — a fellow FSO officer who fled Russia with his family in October 2022 because he morally opposed the war.

Karakulov, who was in charge of Putin’s secure communications, revealed in interviews with the Associated Press and the anti-Kremlin investigative unit the Dossier Center published in April that the Russian leader was so terrified of being killed that he has installed identical replicas of his Kremlin office in his many secret residences scattered around the country.

Like Brizhaty, Karakulov also claimed that in an effort to sow confusion and thwart a possible attack, security officials would claim that Putin was in one place when he was actually somewhere else.

Karakulov said that contrary to the macho public persona Putin has cultivated, in reality his former boss is a deeply fearful and isolated man: he said he does not use a cellphone or the internet, instead relying on his cronies for information, and avoids flying.