Putin is a paranoid 'war criminal' who makes staff quarantine for two weeks before meetings, officer who defected claims

4 April 2023, 15:07 | Updated: 4 April 2023, 15:10

Gleb Karakulov has defected
Gleb Karakulov has defected. Picture: Dossier/Getty

By Kit Heren

A Russian protection officer who defected to the West has claimed that Vladimir Putin is so scared of Covid-19 that he makes staff self-isolate for two weeks before any meetings with him.

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The paranoid Russian president sits in a bunker because of a fear of assassination and refuses to use the internet or mobile phones, Captain Gleb Karakulov has claimed in a bombshell interview.

Mr Karakulov, who worked for the federal security service and often guarded Mr Putin, fled the country in 2022 amid the war in Ukraine, and called the president a "war criminal".

He said that Mr Putin is so "mortally afraid" of Covid-19 that he is continuing to isolate, even as the pandemic enters its fourth year and much of the rest of the world has returned to normal.

Dossier - the Russian-language outlet that ran the interview with Mr Karakulov - said he is the highest-ranking defector to abandon the Kremlin.

Putin is paranoid, Mr Karakulov said
Putin is paranoid, Mr Karakulov said. Picture: Alamy

Mr Karakulov urged other Russian officers to follow his example and leave the country.

He said: "You have information that is not broadcast on TV. And I only saw some of it. Come on, support me.

:You will help the citizens to know the truth. I am sure that you have had doubts about the actions of the 'supreme commander' before, but your oath made you not ask questions and follow orders.

"But what is happening now goes beyond all limits - both conceivable and unthinkable. You must not carry out criminal orders and serve this war criminal, Vladimir Putin. I consider him a war criminal."

Gleb Karakulov
Gleb Karakulov. Picture: Dossier

Reports of Mr Putin's paranoia about disease and assassination have circulated for years, and Mr Karakulov confirmed that the president was deathly afraid of the pandemic.

Asked if Mr Putin was still self-isolating from Covid, the former officer said: "Yes that's right. In January it will be three years since the coronavirus has been on our planet. And our president is still sitting [in self-isolation]. We are seriously quarantined for two weeks before any event, even if it lasts 15 or 20 minutes.

"A pool of employees is created who have undergone this cleansing - they have served a two-week quarantine. They are considered clean and can work in the same room as Putin."

Mr Karakulov, who worked in the service from 2009, said he and his erstwhile colleagues still do not understand why Mr Putin is so strict about quarantine - especially as they are all fully vaccinated and test themselves regularly.

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The former guard said Mr Putin was healthy for his age despite his fears, and only missed a handful of trips for illness over a period of years. But since the pandemic, he has retreated to a bunker, and makes a maximum of three trips a year.

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Mr Karakulov also said his former boss "doesn't use the internet or a mobile phone" because he is afraid of being bugged.

"He only receives information from his closest circle, which means that he lives in an information vacuum."

Mr Karakulov was on a work trip to Kazakhstan in October last year with his wife and daughter. On the last day they flew out to Istanbul.