Russian Defector on Putin: 'He's Simply Afraid'

Gleb Karakulov, who protected Putin for years, says Putin avoids internet, travels on secret train
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2023 11:35 AM CDT
He Protected Putin for Years. Now He's Speaking Out
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.   (Dossier Center via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is "pathologically afraid for his life" and uses an untrackable armored train in an effort to protect it, according to the highest-ranking intelligence official to defect from Russia since the start of its war in Ukraine. Gleb Karakulov—who defected with his wife and daughter during a business trip to Kazakhstan in October at great risk to himself, without telling his own parents—estimates he traveled 180 times with the Russian president as a captain and engineer in the secretive Federal Protective Service, per the AP. He spoke out in an interview released Tuesday, saying he can no longer be silent and hopes other Russians will follow his lead.

"Our homeland needs to be saved," Karakulov told the Dossier Center, a London-based investigative group funded by former Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who became an opposition activist. The 35-year-old, who spent 13 years in service and is now wanted in Russia on unspecified charges, described Putin as an isolated "war criminal" who "has lost touch with the world," per the Guardian. Karakulov said Putin doesn't use a mobile phone or the internet, per the AP. "He has been living in an information cocoon for the past couple of years, spending most of his time in his residences, which the media very fittingly call bunkers," he added, per the Guardian.

Karakulov confirmed Putin uses identical offices in different locations and travels on a secret rail network with stations near his Novo-Ogaryovo estate and summer home in Sochi. The train he uses looks like any other in Russia, but it "cannot be tracked on any information resource," Karakulov said. "It's done for stealth purposes," he continued, noting Putin didn't like that airplanes could be easily tracked. He added, per the AP: "I understand that he's simply afraid." Per NBC News, Karakulov noted that the orchestrator of a "crazy and terrible war" is in good health for a person of 70. He also said that Putin "surrounds himself with an impenetrable barrier of quarantines," per the Guardian. But "he only values his own life and the lives of his family and friends." (More Vladimir Putin stories.)

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