Putin's closest cronies caught calling him 'Satan' and 'a dwarf'

Somebody new going to fall out of a window in Moscow?

Seems the tsar of Russia is not well regarded by the boyars he holds in his closest circle, and now the entire world knows about it.

That's what we read in the Daily Mail:

Moscow's high society has been rocked by a scandal after a pair of prominent Vladimir Putin cronies were allegedly heard insulting the Russian despot.

Oligarch and former Russian senator Farkhad Akhmedov and high-profile Moscow music producer Iosif Prigozhin, both supposedly supporters of Putin, have been accused of calling him 'Satan' and a 'dwarf'.

An audio recording of what is reportedly a 35-minute phone call between the wealthy pair was shared by Ukraine's Channel Five and quickly jumped on by other outlets — as well as Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB).

In the audio clip, the pair are heard eviscerating Putin's invasion of Ukraine, slamming his Kremlin entourage over their failings, and even insulting his height.

Any public criticism of Putin in Russia is rare — not least among those who have benefited most from his consolidation of power. Those found guilty of insulting the Russian state, its army, or Putin himself face fines and even jail time.

While it's funny as heck to those of us on the outside, given how splendidly mean these two are in their toilet-mouthed mockery — calling Putin's deputy, Dmitri Medvedev, "undergrown," for one, and howling that Putin is being defeated by Kvartal 95, which is Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky's entertainment production company — the leaked conversation tells us a lot about how the Ukraine war is going over in Russia, where losses are terrible, and daily reports of small-fry dissidents being arrested for protesting that war now seem to extend to a much higher circle. 

That's because Akhmedov and Prigozhin are no ordinary Russian oligarchs.

They are considered the closest of the closest cronies within Putin's inner circle.  They're major insiders.  Their fortunes are tied to companies for energy, internet troll operations, and mercenaries and Russian military intelligence, all critical elements of Russia as it is run now.

They are not only close; they are part of a shrinking inner circle, meaning, they are probably more trusted:

"(Putin's) circle of advisers narrowed," CIA chief Bill Burns said in April.

"And in that small circle, it has never been career-enhancing to question his judgment or his almost mystical belief that his destiny is to restore Russia's influence."

Well, they did.

This article that ran in January in the New York Post, describing what kinds of shenanigans Prigozhin is up to, is extremely instructive now in light of the news that he has no respect for Putin.

Yevgeny Prigozhin is becoming increasingly bold. He's spruiking his Wagner Group mercenaries as Russia's most effective fighting force. He's waging a verbal war against key Putin appointees. He's winning public support among extremists who believe their aging president is failing them.

That's why some warn he may end up being "worse than Putin".

But among Putin's kleptocratic (government of thieves) circle of power, he's rapidly emerging as the 70-year-old's most likely successor. Or usurper.

So he's already a bit of a critic and challenger, except that in private, he's even more negative on Putin.

Akhmedov is similar, having bankrolled political reform efforts in his ancestral Azerbaijan while apparently standing for the status quo with Putin.  Something needed to give.

Now the word is out as to what they really think, and of course in Ukraine, they're having a field day. 

Will Putin's minions "arrange" for these guys to have an "accident," which seems to be happening all over?

Will the oligarchs come out openly in their opposition to Putin, or will they just deny they ever said these things?

It's hard to say.

If I had to guess what was happening as to why the phone call leaked, I would guess the CIA got hold of this recorded conversation and released it in order to shake up Putin.  CIA director William Burns is probably the only smart appointment in Joe Biden's Cabinet, a real foreign policy heavyweight, and is perfectly capable of such dark maneuvering with that calculated strategic aim.

If so, Putin will be placed in an impossible position, having to get rid of the last of his inner circle, which despises him, or to keep them — as they undoubtedly plot against him. 

While the West's position is very bad on Ukraine, it may well be that Putin's situation is worse.

Image: Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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