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Putin arrests Russia’s own spy chiefs, report says

Russia's President Vladimir Putin. (Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS/Abaca Press/TNS)
March 14, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the arrest of a Russian spy chief and his deputy over the Ukraine resistance that has severely impacted the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Putin reportedly says is the fault of his Federal Security Service (FSB).

According to a report by The Independent over the weekend, the leader of FSB’s foreign intelligence branch, Sergey Beseda, and his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh, were arrested by Russian authorities and placed under house arrest by Putin.  

Andrei Soldatov, co-founder and editor of Agentura — a community of journalists who monitor the Russian FSB – said sources inside the security service confirmed that both Beseda and Bolyukh are being held by Putin.

Vladimir Osechkin, a Russian human rights activist who was exiled from his home country, also confirmed their detention and revealed that security officers have conducted searches at more than 20 locations in Moscow due to suspicions that their colleagues were speaking to journalists.

Osechkin said the formal excuse for their arrest was allegations of embezzlement, but the “real reason is unreliable, incomplete and partially false information about the political situation in Ukraine”.

In recent reports by the FBS, security officers admitted that they had “terribly miscalculated” the Ukrainian resistance, Soldatov said.

He added that intelligence officials may have gathered good information, but that they were likely afraid to “tell Putin what he doesn’t want to hear,” so they “tailor their information.”

The Independent reported that Ukraine Armed Forces and volunteers have killed roughly 12,000 Russian troops as of March 9, including three Russian generals who were assassinated within days of each other.

The Ukrainian military announced on Friday that its forces killed a Russian general, identified as Maj. Gen. Andriy Kolesnikov, who was the commander of Russia’s 29th Combined Arms Army, which is a component of Russia’s Eastern Military District.

The previous week, Ukrainian forces also reportedly killed Russian Maj. Gen. Andrei Sukhovetsky, according to a Russian social media post by a Russian military officer group member. Sukhovetsky was the head of the 7th Guards Mountain Air Assault Division, a unit of the Russian military’s highly regarded paratroop forces.

Additionally, Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Directorate said that Ukrainian forces killed Russian Maj. Gen. Vitaliy Gerasimova, along with several other senior Russian army officers, in fighting near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Gerasimova was the chief of staff and first deputy commander of the Russian military’s 41st Combined Arms Army.

The Ukrainian military also claimed Ukrainian forces killed a Russian tank commander who was once personally recognized by Russian President Vladimir Putin.