The officers are said to be from the FSB security service, which is the successor to the KGB, with some removed while others were reportedly arrested
Image: SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
A mass purge of 150 security officials has been ordered by Vladimir Putin in the wake of the botched invasion of Ukraine, claim reports.
The officers are said to be from the FSB security service, which is the successor to the KGB, with some removed while others were reportedly arrested.
All of those ousted were said to be employees of the Fifth Service, a division that was set up in 1998, when Putin was director of the FSB to perform operations in former Soviet Union countries.
Col-General Sergei Beseda, 68, head of the 5th Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB), was one who is under house arrest.
He has now been placed in pre-trial detention in notorious Lefortovo Prison, suggesting he will face major charges for intelligence failings, it is claimed.
The purge was reported by Christo Grozev, executive director of Bellingcat, an investigative news organisation.
He claimed the officer had been dismissed for “reporting false information to the Kremlin about the real situation in Ukraine before the invasion”.
Grozev told Popular Politics, a YouTube channel about Russian current affairs: “I can say that although a significant number of them have not been arrested, they will no longer work for the FSB.”
Putin had been convinced by secret services briefings that his troops would be welcomed by many Ukrainians, and achieve a speedy victory.
In reality they have faced implacable opposition.
The move will be seen as a warning to other senior Putin aides who are expected to take the blame for the huge Russian death toll in Ukraine.
Beseda’s case is being investigated by the Military Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee, said Russian intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov, who revealed the Lefortovo move.
Beseda, in charge of FSB intelligence and political subversion in the ex-USSR, had been on a trip to Ukraine shortly before he was detained.
Putin is said to fear that moles leaked invasion plans to the West, and Beseda was detained along with his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh, but had been held under house arrest until now.
Beseda had been a long time trusted Putin secret services official, and was in his role as head of the 5th service of the FSB since 2009.
The current status of Bolyukh is unclear and Russia has not confirmed his arrest of detention.
Last month Putin also fired the deputy head of the Russian national guard.