VLADIMIR Putin’s replacement if he is overthrown in a palace coup will be even worse than him, experts have claimed.
Three potential frontrunners in the race to succeed Russia’s president include spy chiefs and a man who has warned of a global war between Russia and the West.
Foreign policy experts and exiled Russian politicians have claimed that three key figures are waiting in the wings to replace Putin.
They are Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Russian security service the FSB; Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council; and Sergey Glazyev, Putin’s economic adviser.
Olga Lautman, Senior Fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington DC told The Sun Online that Putin has continued the Soviet-era process of cruelty and indoctrination under his leadership, hijacking institutions, installing his loyalists, and removing what little freedom of the press had been allowed to flourish in the 1990s.
“For every Putin, there are 100 others waiting in the wings who could be just as cruel,” she said.
“Until that cruelty against civilians and disregard for human lives is erased, no good leader will emerge in Russia.”
And she argues that Putin’s replacement could be far worse.
Lautman describes Glazyev as a “lunatic”, who has frequently discussed “nuking the whole West”.
She adds that he is “more mentally unstable and fascist than Putin,” and that his belief system comes out of a sense that “the West needs to be destroyed”.
In his mind, “only Russia can be a superpower”.
While Patrushev and Bortnikov have both been seen as waiting in the wings for some time to replace Putin.
And Lautman believes that a glimpse at Russian history shows how a coup could take place at any time.
“There is loyalty towards Putin until there is not,” she said. “As much as someone is trusted, they can turn on Putin at any moment.
“The danger can come from within his inner circle. Putin is aware of this, hence his paranoia.
“Putin knows all too well how to eliminate people who may have secrets on him.”
THREE men have been lined up as Vlad’s potential replacements.
- Head of Russia’s security services (FSB), he has long been tipped to replace Putin
- He worked from 1975 to 2004 in the secret police before joining the FSB
- Under his leadership, the FSB is accused of destroying opposition parties, the free press, and civil rights groups
- He initiated the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and was slapped with sanctions by the EU as a result
- In May, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence claimed Bortnikov and other members of the Russian elite were considering ‘poisoning’ the president to remove him from power
- Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, Patrushev was formerly director of the FSB from 1999 to 2008
- He met Putin when both were in the KGB and the two became close, with Vlad rewarding him with his prestigious new role after becoming president
- Patrushev is accused of involvement in a series of deadly apartment bombings in Russia in 1999 that killed around 300 civilians, which Putin blamed on “Chechen separatists”
- He is also believed to have approved the assassination of FSB whistleblower Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 in London
- Former intelligence officer Rebekah Koffler describes Patrushev as the “only person” Putin trusts
- She also described him as a “rabid anti-American propagandist” who recently accused the US of planning to nuke Ukraine and blame Russia
- Putin’s notoriously-blunt economics adviser, Glazyev was born in what is now Ukraine
- In 1999, he wrote a book “Genocide: Russia and the New World Order”, accusing the country’s oligarchs of causing a devastating annual population decline
- He has warned of a “global war” between Russia and the US since 2015, when he said America’s capitalist model was entering a phase of self-destruction
- In 2016, Ukraine published wiretapped phone calls of Glazyev organising pro-Russian riots in Ukrainian cities
- Glazyev has also spread anti-Semitic propaganda about Ukraine’s president Zelensky, who is Jewish
- In 2019, he accused Zelensky of planning to replace the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine with Israeli Jews
Meanwhile, exiled Russian opposition politician Mikhail Svetov has warned that Putin’s replacement will be “far worse”.
Svetov was arrested and had his Moscow apartment raided on trumped-up charges last year, as paranoid Vlad stepped up his ruthless clampdown on Russia’s opposition in the months leading up to the war in Ukraine.
Speaking from exile in Panama, Svetov told The Sun Online: “In hindsight, he [Putin] seems to have been preparing for war [with Ukraine] for some time.
Once Putin is gone, the real radicals are coming
“To wage war, he needed to get rid of anyone capable of organising opposition. We just didn’t realise it at the time.”
He went on: “Once Putin is gone, the real radicals are coming. The war is humiliating Russia and the army is in terrible shape.
“As there won’t be a clear victory in Ukraine, it will ignite resentment that be used by those who take over to fight and gain a ‘proper’ victory.”
He accused the West of having a “fixation” on Putin, and assuming that “once he’s gone, everything will change”.
Svetov went on: “He is getting all of his information from his inner circle which is highly corrupt, they have been lying to Putin for years.
“He believes in a reality that doesn’t exist, but not because he is insane. He truly believes the West is meddling in Russian politics and trying to spark a revolution and has done so for the past 10 to 15 years.”
Svetov also warned that Putin was leading his country on an “inevitable” path toward civil war, if not a broader conflict with the West.
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