Behind the scenes of Putin’s mysterious purge of FSB official general Sergei Smirnov

MOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin on Thursday pledged that he would not be influenced by Western pressure following the poisoning of his main national critic, Alexei Navalny.

Nonetheless, a mysterious shaking reported to a Russian intelligence agency and other Putin comments suggest that the Kremlin has been forced to at least try to demonstrate the distance between the president and those who could be behind the poisoning of Navalny with the military nerve agent Novichok.

Speaking to Russian businessmen, Putin said he personally allowed Navalny to leave Siberia for Berlin for medical treatment, which saved the life of the opposition leader. Hours later, Putin sacked the deputy director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), General Sergei Smirnov, according to an article in a respected business newspaper, RBK. General Smirnov oversaw a department of the FSB which has been linked in UK media to the poisoning.

“The official reason was age – Smirnov was 70 – but considering why his second serve was famous, it could be the punishment for not doing a clean poisoning job.“

Navalny, a 44-year-old anti-corruption activist and opposition leader, collapsed in a plane from Siberia to Moscow on August 20. visit his sickbed in the hospital, as he was surrounded by FSBs and police. According to a report in The Guardian, one of the departments managed by General Smirnov, the so-called second service of the FSB, was behind the poisoning of Navalny by Novichok.

The FSB upheaval has become a big day for Kremlin watchers, who at best find it difficult to uncover the centers of power behind the doors of the Kremlin and the FSB. Of course, the general’s dismissal could have other explanations than the poisoning.

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