Troubling questions about Putin: Is he sick? And is he getting rid of witnesses?

Putin

 

2016/01/05 • Analysis & Opinion, Crimea, Russia

In the dies non that exists in Russia over the country’s long winter holidays, two uncomfortable and potentially dangerous questions have been raised about Vladimir Putin: Does his fall off in pubic activity mean he is sick? And are recent deaths of his top military commanders evidence that the Kremlin leader is getting rid of witnesses to his crimes?

That such questions are being asked at all is more important in terms of public attitudes than the answers that anyone may give to one or the other.

Yesterday, Moscow’s independent Dozhd television, citing a report by the Center for Economic and Political Reforms, said that in recent weeks, Putin’s activity has fallen to “a record low for the past 15 years,” sparking concerns that he is either tired or sick.

The number of decrees issued during the Putin reign (Source: Center for Economic and Political Reforms)

The number of decrees issued during the Putin reign (Source: Center for Economic and Political Reforms)

Between 1994 and 2012, the center’s analysts found, Russia’s three presidents, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev issued between 123 and 149 decrees monthly. But since 2013, they found that Putin had issued “almost half as many” and that “the number has contracted further.” In 2013, he issued 970; in 2014, 837; and in 2015, 638.

Nikolay Mironov, the center’s director, says that this fall off in activity “may be connected with physical problems” or simply the result of the wearing down of someone who has long been in office. The decline began in May 2013, and since that time, many have suggested that Putin doesn’t look as well as he did earlier.

He notes that the decline in official activity includes not just decrees but other forms of orders issued to subordinates. Over the last year, Mironov continues, the president has distanced himself “from all important questions,” as shown as well by the way in which he answered questions at his recent press conference.

But the director points to the most important consequence of this: Under Russian conditions, if the president doesn’t formulate his orders in a written form, many in the bureaucracy and society do not know what they are supposed to do – and being at a loss, they may either do nothing or go their own ways.

Major general Aleksandr Shushukin, 52, who was the deputy chief of staff of the Russian paratrooper forces and led the Russian military invasion in Crimea died suddenly on December 27, 2015

Major general Aleksandr Shushukin, 52, who was the deputy chief of staff of the Russian paratrooper forces and led the Russian military invasion in Crimea died suddenly on December 27, 2015

Today, Zoryan Shkiryak, an advisor to the Ukrainian interior ministry, suggested that the recent deaths of two military commanders who undoubtedly have access to many of Putin’s most closely held secrets suggests that the Kremlin leader may be killing off witnesses to his own crimes.

Col.Gen. Igor Sergun, 59, the head of the GRU (Russia's military intelligence directorate), who has long done secretive dirty work at the order of the Kremlin in the war against Ukraine died suddenly on January 4, 2016

Col.Gen. Igor Sergun, 59, the head of the GRU (Russia’s military intelligence directorate), who has long done secretive dirty work at the order of the Kremlin in the war against Ukraine died suddenly on January 4, 2016

He points specifically to the death on December 27 of Major General Aleksandr Shushukin, who led the occupation of Crimea, and of Col.Gen. Igor Sergun, the head of the GRU [Russia’s military intelligence directorate, which is the country’s largest foreign intelligence agency – Ed.], who has long done secretive dirty work “at the order of the Kremlin in the war against Ukraine.”

Of course, the two deaths may be a coincidence, but they are convenient and getting rid of the executors of regime policy has long been a tradition for the Soviet and Russian security services. They in this as in much else operate according to the principle “no person, no problem.” That Putin might do the same should not surprise anyone, Shkiryak says.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • Agrajag

    Two deaths might be a coincidence, any more is probably a “culling”, keep an eye on the obituaries.

  • Brent

    Sergun and Shushukin “sleep wit da fishes”……I wonder if Merkl or Hollande will wake up with decapitated horse heads in their beds?

    Just like in Donbass, give this mafia regime time and it will destroy itself from within…..

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Those that are still alive will no doubt be watching their backs very closely from now on. I’d certainly expect Girkin, Bezler, Borodai and Co to be in mortal danger, Girkin especially. He’s been making all sorts of statements in public that contradict the Kremlin’s official versions of events.
      The author forgot to mention some others who have already been bumped off by the FSB, most notably Bednov alias Batman and Mozgovoi. Bednov was bumped off shortly after making some very damaging statements about the extreme corruption of Plotnitsky and his LNR thugs. Ataman Koznitsky made similar statements, though as far as I know he is still alive- but for how much longer, I wonder?
      Girkin and Co shoud seriously start considering a request for political asylum in the west if they want to stay alive. So should Kudrin and Medvedev.

      And one is left wondering whether General Aleksandr Lebed’s death in a helicopter “accident” in April 2002 was really an accident- or arranged by the demented dwarf to get rid of a popular potential rival for the top job. After all, if the dwarf can arrange the blowing up of apartment buildings, arranging a helicopter “accident” shouldn’t be too difficult.

  • Being

    Oh yes coincidences in Russia.
    For 10.000 Ukraine dead and many tortured and also raped it is not satisfaction just 2 death of KGB top officers.

  • Czech Mate

    Still waiting for that assasination breaking news from Kremlin and I know it is coming!