Report: Splits among Russian officers with the help of an activist “wanted by the Kremlin”

Report: Splits among Russian officers with the help of an activist “wanted by the Kremlin”
Report: Splits among Russian officers with the help of an activist “wanted by the Kremlin”
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After Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine, defections struck the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, including former army generals and security officials, who moved to the West with the help of a former defector, according to a CNN report.

The dissident Russian activist and journalist, Vladimir Ussishkin, is considered one of the most prominent dissidents from the Russian regime. He is currently helping those fleeing the “brutality of the Kremlin’s men” to settle in Western countries, but he fears for his life, after being subjected to assassination attempts.

Usishkin had revealed torture in his country’s prisons and the recruitment of prisoners for war in Ukraine, according to a previous report by the British newspaper “The Times”.

Usishkin recounts to CNN the circumstances of his exposure to an assassination attempt on September 12, in the house he lives in with his wife and children in the French city of Biarritz, where he has lived since 2015 after fleeing Russia and seeking asylum in France.

He says he was walking towards his dining room table when he saw a red laser beam emanating from a sniper rifle on his wall.

The family immediately turned off the lights and lay down on the ground. Minutes later, a “potential killer” fired bullets at the house of the Russian dissident, but failed to hit them.

“Over the past ten years, I have done a lot of things to protect human rights and other people, but at this moment I realized that my mission to help others creates a very big danger for my family,” the prominent Russian dissident told CNN.

Usishkin has become a hero to a growing number of high-ranking Russian officials who defected from Moscow after rejecting the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, including “former generals and intelligence agents”, he says.

Usishkin is at the top of the “wanted list” of the Russian authorities, and he is currently living under constant armed guard provided by the French authorities, and he is one of the most prominent dissidents that Moscow considers “enemies of the Kremlin,” according to “CNN”.

In 2011, he founded Gulagu.net, a collaborative human rights organization aimed at exposing corruption and torture in Russia, and oversaw a series of high-profile investigations that accused Russian institutions and ministries of crimes.

In 2021, the Oshkin website published hours of leaked videos showing brutal torture in Russian prisons, including sexual assault, according to the Times.

escape wave

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a large wave of Russian officials fled, and expanded after Putin announced partial mobilization in September last year, and Usishkin says, “Every day some people ask for our help.”

According to his words, among them are “a former government and Russian minister, generals, security officials, and mercenaries from the Wagner Group.”

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In January, Ussishkin helped a former commander of Wagner flee Russia on foot to neighboring Norway to seek asylum.

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The former soldier feared for his life after refusing to renew his contract with the mercenary group.

These fugitive officials from Russia provide Osichkin with information about “Moscow’s inner workings” and reveal the Kremlin’s spying plans in European countries, according to CNN.

Among those assisted by Usechkin is former lieutenant in Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Imran Navruzbekov, who says he “prepared directives on Russian espionage operations in Europe for Western intelligence agencies”.

According to Usushkin, a former Russian general brought with him military documents, passed on information about corruption within the army and secret recordings showing how the FSB pulls strings even within military units.

Among those defectors is 32-year-old Maria Dmitrieva, who allegedly revealed secrets from within the ranks of Russia’s Federal Security Service.

She told CNN that she worked as a doctor for a month in the Russian security apparatus, and secretly recorded conversations with patients whose “symptoms of illness” were concealed by the Russian authorities.

It said a notorious Russian military intelligence agent was suffering from malaria after an undisclosed mission in Africa.

Reasons for escaping

The former officer, Navruzbekov, confirms that “despair over Russia’s chances in Ukraine prompted many of his colleagues to flee the country.”

“They are already aware that Russia will never win this war, and they will do their best to find some kind of solution,” he said.

For Dmitrieva, too, the war in Ukraine was the spark, and she said she hoped to inspire others to “undermine Putin’s regime”.

Usishkin emphasized that “the Ukrainian heritage and family ties of many Russian officials played a major role in their defection.”

“It is the war of the only man who wants to save his power and his control over Russia,” he said.

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