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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

Vladmir Putin's Public Meetings

Vladimir Putin's intense gaze

If you live in or are associated with the Russian Federation, you do not want to be having a public meeting with Vladimir Putin. That is because he is the world's most dangerous man, and that is why we write so much about him. He is fascinating and appalling in equal measure.

Recently it has been reported - substantially after the event - that the Wagner Group coup leader Yevgeny Prigozhin had met with Vladimir Putin recently after his abortive coup attempt against the Russian leader on 24 June 2023. We do not believe this. There are no photos, videos or published notes of the meeting. We believe the recent assertion of the existence of such a meeting - several weeks after it purportedly took place - is a likely index of the date on which Mr Prigozhin was murdered. There is an unfortunate habit of people are are publicly reported as having had meetings with Vladimir Putin as never been seen again.

As we have previously relayed, Mr Putin does not publicise the people with whom he has meetings. If you are publicly reported to have had a meeting with him - particularly if some period has elapsed after the meeting took place - then you are highly likely to be dead. He never met you at all. He killed you. Indeed since Mr Prigozhin's coup attempt, he has not been seen in public anywhere. The Moscow media reported that he had emigrated to Belarus, all FSB charges of treason and the like having been suddenly dropped against him; and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko appeared on television saying that he was in Belarus and that he had set up a camp in Belarus for all Wagner Group troops who wanted to move there.

Mr Lukashenko then arranged a tour of compliant journalists around that camp, at an undisclosed location in Belarus, but it appeared to be completely empty and there were no Wagner troops there at all. There were no photos of videos of Mr Prigozhin in Belarus, whether meeting Mr Lukashenko or doing anything else there. (This author, having been to Belarus, observes in passing that although Belarus is an oppressive society there is no law against your taking a photo of yourself in the street and posting it on the internet.) Then Mr Lukashenko suddenly announced that Mr Prigozhin was in St Petersburg, at approximately the same time as the FSB publicised a raid on Mr Prigozhin's St Petersburg home, showing off a selection of wigs, cash, gold bullion, a helicopter, passports with Mr Prigozhin's face but a selection of different names, and various other strange objects to be found in one's residence. In the meantime, the Russian authorities announced that they had no interest in the whereabouts of Mr Prigozhin. In other words, Mr Prigozhin has completely disappeared, and a narrative of events about his movements and whereabouts is being created after the event to sew maximum confusion and deceit.

Now watch the following video, which is an extraordinary and perhaps unprecedented "meeting" of the Russian Security Council, televised. The Security Council of the Russian Federation is perhaps the closest parallel to the Soviet concept of the Politburo - a group of senior officials who meet to discuss the important internal and external affairs of the Russian Federation in committee style - and its meetings are not routinely televised. Nevertheless the apparent meeting on 22 February 2022, just before Russia's invasion of Ukraine that began two days later, was. The full video, with subtitles available in a number of languages, appears here:

There are a number of peculiar features of this meeting. The first is that the various members of the Security Council are not sitting around a table, as one would expect, but instead they are all seated on wooden chairs with no tables in front of them in a large hall. They are carrying no papers, bags or notes as one might expect of ministers in a cabinet meeting. Vladimir Putin, the President of the Security Council, sits in a gilded pulpit and various members of the Security Council make rambling speeches relating to Ukraine under his watchful glare. The part that really interested commentators, however, was Vladimir Putin's questioning of Sergey Naryshkin, apparently the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). This hostile interrogation begins at 1:22:15 on the video and is somewhat horrifying.

Vladimir Putin is known to have a low opinion of the SVR, who are supposed to be responsible for working abroad, gathering foreign intelligence relevant to the interests of the Russian Federation and also for recruiting double agents and other foreign spies to work for Russian interests. However he considers their work amateurish and increasingly he resorts to other branches of Russia's sprawling complex of intelligence services, in particular the FSB, to conduct offshore Russian intelligence activities. Mr Naryshkin, unlike any other member of the Security Council who spoke at this contrived event, is shaking and stuttering while he speaks and is then the subject of a series of highly obscure but palpably hostile questions from Mr Putin, that he (perhaps understandably) struggles to answer. From this bizarre event we conclude that Mr Naryshkin is distinctly out of fashion with Mr Putin. Indeed to the best of our knowledge Mr Naryshkin hasn't been seen in public since. We note the following article on the Kremlin's English language website, which appears to have an image of Mr Naryshkin in it and is dated 7 July 2023; but Mr Naryshkin has been undertaking a distinctly low profile recently:

Incidentally, this article is worth perusing simply to observe that the transcript of the meeting of the Russian Security Council that it proffers is distinctly cut short. We actually have no idea what was being discussed at the Security Council meeting, if indeed one took place on that date at all.

Interestingly the website has been much improved recently, adding all sorts of intriguing details about laws and orders the President. has made and unusual people he has met. It now appears to be an exact mirror (in English) of, and written in high quality English. These things never used to be the case. It would appear that the Russian President is keen on improving his internet presence, perhaps in anticipation of the forthcoming BRICS summit in South Africa that at the time of writing is due to be the Russian President's first fore abroad since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. The website (and this is really a point only for dedicated Kremlinologists) used to contain sporadic accounts of extremely obscure meetings that the President had allegedly had with people, some of whom were never seen again. Now it looks to have been transformed, for whatever reason, into a professional website that might be typical of a head of government or head of state. Mr Putin is not exactly known for his standards of open government, so the mind boggles.

Then there is Ravil Maganov. Here is the last known public photograph of him:

Yevgeny Prigozhin's mysterious disappearance

Shortly after this photograph was taken, Mr Maganov, Chair of the Board of Lukoil, an ostensibly private Russian oil company in fact (naturally) controlled by Mr Putin, who had not been supportive of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and had been extending his own connections with the government in Kyiv, fell out of the top floor window of Moscow Central Clinical Hospital.

The man on the left in the following photograph with Mr Putin is (or was) Yegveny Zinichev, Head of the Ministry of Civil Emergencies, one of Vladimir Putin's various large internal paramilitary organisations that exist to deter various types of civil unrest and to respond to natural disasters.

Televised Russian Security Council meeting

Mr Putin does not appear too happy with Mr Zinichev. Some time later, in September 2021 Mr Zinichev threw himself from a Siberian cliff face some hundreds of kilometres from the nearest settlement while being interviewed by state broadcaster Russia Today's chief anchor, in order to attempt to save the life of a colleague. It was unclear who this colleague was, what sort of peril the colleague was in, why throwing oneself off a cliff face might assist the situation or why the interview was taking place (if it took place at all - there is no evidence of this) in such an obscure location.

Meetings with Mr Putin are a hazardous business. Mr Putin does not meet people in public, save perhaps when he wants to prepare himself for BRICS conferences. He does everything strictly in private. A meeting in public with Mr Putin may well indicate that you have done something very wrong and indeed it may be an index that you are not just out of favour but indeed about to be murdered.

Then there is this gentleman, who we are told is the Chair of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Alexander Bastrykin, meeting with Vladimir Putin.

Public figures affected by Putin's meetings

Mr Putin does not have a high opinion of Mr Bastrykin; and the role of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, an obscure law enforcement body about which little is really known, is understood to be oversight of the various Russian security and intelligence agencies which it infiltrates. Exactly who really runs the Investigative Committee is unknown; but we believe that in all likelihood its de facto head is Mr Putin himself.

Here is an article on the Investigative Committee's website, in which a much younger Mr Bastrykin wishes all Russians Happy New Year:

The curious and appalled reader may wish to peruse some of the other very strange articles on this website, and try to decipher what they are all about. This author can in most cases only try to speculate.

Finally, here is the very worst kind of public meeting, in which Vladimir Putin forced aluminium factory oligarch Oleg Deripaska to sign a contract he was not party to, and then infamously added "give me back my pen".

Nobody has seen much of Mr Deripaska since then.


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