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‘Putin’s spy chief and his deputy under house arrest’

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Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture by AP

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture by AP

Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture by AP

A Russian spy chief and his deputy have been placed under house arrest by Vladimir Putin as the president blames his security services for the resistance met in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it has been claimed.

According to a leading expert on the Russian security services, Sergey Beseda, head of the FSB’s foreign intelligence branch, was arrested along with his deputy, Anatoly Bolyukh.

Andrei Soldatov, who is co-founder and editor of Agentura — an online watchdog of the Russian secret services’ activities — revealed that sources inside the FSB have confirmed the detention of both men.

The arrests were further corroborated by Vladimir Osechkin, an exiled Russian human rights activist who also added that the FSB officers had carried out searches at more than 20 addresses in Moscow of colleagues suspected to be speaking to journalists.

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Mr Osechkin told The Times that while the formal grounds of the arrests were made on accusations of embezzlement of funds, he said the “real reason is unreliable, incomplete and partially false information about the political situation in Ukraine”.

A Western official was aware of the arrests of both men but could not confirm them, but said that if the claims of arrest are true, it would signal Putin’s concern about the FSB’s role in the military campaign and may lead to major changes at senior level in the FSB.

Mr Soldatov told The Times that the final reports produced by the FSB in the lead-up to the invasion of Ukraine and their assessment of how much resistance was expected were “terribly miscalculated”.

He added that the intelligence may have gathered good intelligence, but the problem lies in the difficulty faced by Russian superiors to “tell Putin what he doesn’t want to hear” so they “tailor their information”.

It comes as Putin’s military operation enters its third week and despite significant civilian casualties, Ukraine continues to hold its own against Russia’s forces.

As of last night, Ukraine’s Armed Forces estimated that more than 12,000 Russian troops have been killed while three Russian generals were assassinated within a week.

Major General Vitaly Gerasimov, chief of staff of the 41st Army, Maj Gen Andrei Sukhovetsky, commanding general of the Russian 7th Airborne Division and a deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army, and Maj Gen Andrei Kolesnikov, the commander of the Eastern Military District were all killed in the invasion.

Kolesnikov’s death means as many Russian major generals have been killed in two weeks than in the entire Syrian civil war, where Putin helped prop up Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

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