Monday 20 November 2017

Claims that Putin had a face-lift and beat his wife

Vladimir Putin and his former wife Lyudmila.
Vladimir Putin and his former wife Lyudmila.

Justin Haggler

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin regularly used violence against his divorced wife Lyudmila, a new German documentary about the Russian leader has claimed.

'Putin the Man', made by ZDF television and shown for the first time this week, claimed to have been given access to previously unseen files of an unidentified Western intelligence agency.

The files include details of Mr Putin's time as a young KGB officer stationed in Dresden in the 1980s, as well as his later rise to power in Russia. They contain information from a secretary inside the Dresden KGB office codenamed "Lehnchen", who befriended Mr Putin's ex-wife and said he used beat Lyudmila regularly.

He is depicted as a man who had struggled against the odds from a difficult background to achieve his dream of becoming a KGB spy, only to go off the rails during his time in then-communist East Germany.

Far from his carefully cultivated image as a fitness fanatic today, at the time Mr Putin was overweight and a heavy drinker, according to the documentary.

"He was depressed, fat, lazy and disillusioned," Mahsa Gessen, an author and activist told the documentary.

It includes an incident when the young Mr Putin lost a bunch of KGB keys, and there was a frantic search until they were found. The intelligence files include the testimony of a woman identified as "Mrs H" who said Mr Putin groped her at a party, and his colleagues blamed it on alcohol. Mr Putin has "misrepresented" a crucial incident in his life in 1989 when he turned back protesters intent on storming the KGB office in Dresden. At the time, East Germany was gripped by anti-communist protests that eventually brought down the Berlin Wall. Mr Putin has always claimed that he managed to talk the protesters down while posing as an interpreter.

Assassins

But Siegfried Dannath, one of the demonstrators, told the documentary Mr Putin had in fact appeared in full uniform at the door and told the crowd his men had orders to shoot.

That version of events was corroborated by Sergei Bezrukov, a former KGB colleague of Mr Putin's.

Mr Putin has also survived five assassination attempts, including one in London that was foiled by Scotland Yard

Intelligence files seen by the documentary makers identified five attempts on Mr Putin's life, including one in which British authorities managed to stop a former KGB major at one of London's airports before he could carry out a mission to kill the Russian leader.

That matches previously published reports that two men were arrested in London in 2003 in connection with a suspected plot to kill Mr Putin.

The files seen by the documentary also mention assassination attempts in Moscow, St Petersburg, Tehran and the Azerbaijani capital Baku, as well as a failed coup attempt shortly after Mr Putin was appointed prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in 1999. The coup attempt is blamed on a power struggle between the FSB, the successor to the KGB controlled by Mr Putin, and a rival Russian intelligence agency. By 2010 Mr Putin had become so vain that he secretly had a facelift operation, the documentary claimed.

The Western intelligence agency believes blue stains seen under the Russian leader's eyes during a state visit to Ukraine that year were caused by the operation. At the time, Mr Putin's spokesman blamed the stains on poor television lighting. Mr Putin also once deliberately kept Britain's queen Elizabeth waiting half an hour, according to the documentary, which depicts him as a man obsessed with making others wait.

He regularly keeps his own ministers waiting two or three hours, and has made German chancellor Angela Merkel wait several hours before a meeting. "It's a sign of his power," Ben Judah, a biographer of the Russian president told the documentary. "You need me, but I don't need you, so you have to wait."

The revealing documentary also claims that Mr Putin is famously a late riser who does most of his work in the afternoons,according to insiders. He breakfasts on cottage cheese and does several laps of a swimming pool, before taking hot and cold baths. He is terrified of physical decay, Mr Judah said, and has a terrible fear of ageing.

Despite Russia's rivalry with the US, Mr Putin does his daily workout using American-made fitness machines, the documentary said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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