Meet Putin’s internal circle of evil, from Nikolai Patrushev to Ramzan Kadyrov

It’s been 5 months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine and commenced their relentless assault on their far-smaller neighbor. The Western press has centered closely on Russian President Vladimir Putin, who masterminded the invasion over a few years and has overseen its execution.

However Putin isn’t engaged on his personal.

You are reading: Meet Putin’s internal circle of evil, from Nikolai Patrushev to Ramzan Kadyrov

He’s surrounded by a cabal of equally ruthless lieutenants simply as wanting to deceive the West with bombast and rhetoric.

These henchmen – and occasional ladies — will not be simply wily, they’re extraordinarily well-compensated due to their shut proximity to Putin’s kleptocratic machine. Lengthy-serving and devoted, the Russian chief owes this creepy crew a perverse debt of gratitude for serving to him obtain his horrifying targets.

Right here’s a have a look at the highest seven characters in Putin’s orbit of conflict.

Nikolai Patrushev
Nikolai Patrushev
REUTERS

The inheritor obvious

Nikolai Patrushev, the pinnacle of Russia’s Safety Council, is Putin’s closest advisor, long-time private pal, and the Kremlin hawk who may simply take over the reins of Mom Russia — not less than briefly — if Putin have been to grow to be incapacitated. Patrushev is extremely influential within the Kremlin forms and is likely one of the principal architects of the Putin doctrine — which seeks to return former Soviet-era states (like Ukraine) to Russian management.

Patrushev is Putin’s evil twin, with each twins, on this case, being evil. Their relationship dates again to 1975, once they labored collectively within the KGB. Like his boss, Patrushev — who’s served as a spy operative for 50 years — has doubtless approved focused killings of quite a few Russian “enemies.” Amongst his victims are former FSB officer and vocal Putin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in Britain in 2006, together with Chechen separatist leaders hunted down and killed as a part of a counter-terrorism program in the course of the late-Nineties.

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At 71, Patrushev, like Putin, is a dedicated athlete who often performs volleyball and swims practically three miles every week. He doesn’t abuse alcohol, which is unusual for Russian males, favoring the occasional glass of wine over arduous liquor. He’s a workaholic and by no means late for conferences. It’s doubtless Patrushev helped hatch the plan for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014 and Putin’s assault in opposition to the remainder of the Ukraine this previous February. Patrushev can also be a rabid anti-American propagandist who lately accused Washington of operating a organic weapons program in Ukraine. Much more outlandish, he’s urged that the US is planning to drop a nuke on Ukrainian territory after which blame Russia for it.

Dmitriy Peskov
Dmitriy Peskov
Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Kremlin by way of REUTERS

The speaking head

Dmitriy Peskov, Putin’s press secretary, epitomizes the Russian proverb “You’ll be able to piss into his eyes and he’ll say it’s God’s dew.” This maxim describes of us who’re so shameless of their potential to inform lies, that they continue to be unfazed even when instantly challenged to their face. Peskov has served as Putin’s spokesperson since 2008. His job, primarily, is to create an alternate actuality during which Russia’s geopolitical actions are perceived as benign — if not downright righteous — whereas overlaying up the atrocities dedicated by Putin and the Kremlin.

Peskov, 54, excels at this job, judging by the truth that most Russians appear to assist Putin’s “particular operation” into Ukraine — launched, Putin has stated, to “de-Nazify and demilitarize” the nation. Peskov was even capable of trick the Biden safety group into believing that Russia may really not launch its armies in opposition to Ukraine, inflicting Washington to hesitate till Putin’s forces encircled and attacked the nation on February 24.

Like others in Putin’s world, Peskov has managed to grow to be a multi-millionaire from repeating his boss’ lies. He owns a $10 million actual property empire, travels on personal jets and yachts, drives luxurious autos and, in fact, sports activities designer watches. His third spouse and two grownup youngsters from a pair of earlier marriages are additionally “bathing in gold,” as one other Russian saying goes, and personal multimillion-dollar properties all around the world. Peskov’s 24-year-old daughter Elizaveta Peskova studied enterprise and advertising and marketing in Paris and held internships at Louis Vuitton and with the European Parliament. There are rumors that Peskov could also be divorcing his present spouse, a 47-year-old former Olympic ice-dancing champion Tatyana Navka. Peskov married Navka in 2015 after apparently charming her along with his “class and perseverance” in addition to “buoyant” dancing fashion.

Maria Zakharova
Maria Zakharova
YouTube

The saucy spokeswoman

Maria Zakharova is the Russian International Ministry spokeswoman and one of the vital colourful personalities in Putin’s circle. At 46, she is the primary feminine spokesperson within the historical past of Russia’s International Ministry and has held the job since 2015. Half warrior-half seductress, Zakharova is thought for her combative communication fashion and the quick-witted barbs that she likes to deploy in opposition to Western officers, typically laden with sexual innuendo. By day, Zakharova’s briefings are full of Putin’s lies — similar to portraying Ukraine as being overrun by Nazis and in want of speedy liberation by Russian forces. By night time, she floods social media with suggestive selfies sporting vibrant pink lipstick and provocatively poses in strapless clothes. In early July, Zakharova posted an attractive video of herself fondling two strawberries together with her mouth and tongue to the tune of the patriotic Russian music “Kalinka,” carried out by the Pink Military Choir.

However the principle targets of Putin’s propaganda minister are the Biden Administration, US democracy, and Western values on the whole. Final month, Zakharova posted on her Telegram channel a weird picture of two transgender Biden Administration officers, Dr. Rachel Levine, assistant secretary within the Division of Well being and Human Providers, and Sam Brinton, deputy assistant secretary chargeable for nuclear points inside the Division of Power. Within the picture, which was taken on the French ambassador’s Bastille Day social gathering, Rachel Levine sported a “masculine”-styled admiral’s uniform, whereas Sam Brinton wore a extra “female”-looking blue, floral patterned costume with a sweetheart neckline, blazer, and blue, strappy heels.  “Reply this query actually: are these the values you want to impart in your youngsters? Or lets put up a struggle for our personal?,” wrote Zakharova, mocking Western liberalism and democracy.

Margarita Simonyan
Margarita Simonyan
REUTERS

The Media-Maven

Margarita Simonyan, 42 is Putin’s Propaganda Queen. Formally, she is the Editor-in-Chief of RT, Russia’s international community of tv channels, web sites, and social media accounts broadcasting to non-Russian talking audiences in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German, and Russian. In actuality, Simonyan is not any journalist. RT is Putin’s pet challenge: a Russian state-funded and state-directed information outlet created with the first aim of publishing pro-Kremlin content material to affect international, and particularly Western, audiences about Russia and Putin. Putin created RT in 2005 as Russia At present. However in late 2013 Putin issued an Government Presidential order to “restructure” the community and name it “RT” — concealing RT’s affiliation with Russia.

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in Russia, she graduated from highschool with a Gold Medal for prime tutorial efficiency,  accomplished vocational coaching in broadcasting and later obtained a college diploma in journalism.

Putin is on a first-name-basis with Simonyan and certain personally accepted her candidacy for this high-profile position, which she assumed on the age of 25 in 2005. He’s additionally slightly pleasant together with her: In 2019, throughout a ceremony within the Kremlin, during which Simonyan was given a state award for her patriotic reporting, Putin used the Russian phrase “ty”— which is an indication of familiarity — slightly than “vy,” which is a extra formal model of the English “you”. Simonyan additionally has a yellow telephone on her desk with a direct safe line to the Kremlin.

RT content material ranges from “animated genitals,” a dancing vagina and penis — and their pals “laughing breast” and “overly-eager hand” — to Simonyan-issued threats of nuclear conflict if Russia is denied victory in Ukraine.

Arkady Rotenberg
Arkady Rotenberg
EPA

The hockey bro

Arkady Rotenberg, 70, a billionaire Russian businessman, has been Putin’s pal because the Sixties, when he and his brother, Boris, met a younger Putin of their hometown of St. Petersburg whereas attending a coaching heart for sambo — the Russian martial artwork and fight sport favored by the Soviet navy. As chairman of the chief board of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, Rotenberg often performs hockey with Putin and was as soon as his judo sparring accomplice, a sport Putin says reworked him from a younger hooligan right into a statesman. Awarded by Putin with billions of {dollars} in oil and fuel contracts, Rotenberg owns a $38 million yacht, a luxurious resort in Rome, a big property in Surrey, England, and a number of other villas in Italy and France.

Vladimir Potanin
Vladimir Potanin
REUTERS

The uber-oligarch

Vladimir Potanin, 61 is one other Putin’s pal, hockey accomplice, and the richest man in Russia, reportedly price $25 billion. Potanin was one of many “Large Seven” Russian oligarchs who helped reelect Putin’s predecessor, Boris Yeltsin to the Russian presidency in 1996. Yeltsin, who turned the primary Russian president after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, presided over one of many darkest, most tumultuous and chaotic durations in Russian historical past. Whereas the West foolishly anticipated Russia to show right into a Jeffersonian democracy, Russian leaders schemed to defraud the nation’s main pure useful resource firms. Potanin’s relationship with Putin dates again to 2000, when Yeltsin hand-picked Putin as Russia’s subsequent President, whereas Potanin was busy masterminding the “loans-for-shares” program that enriched oligarchs like himself. Because of this huge fraud, yesterday’s communists was capitalists in a single day, and Russia turned a contemporary mafia state dominated by siloviki (intelligence operatives) with just about limitless energy and monetary sources at their disposals.

Sergei Pavlovich Roldugin
Sergei Pavlovich Roldugin
Getty Pictures

The tradition kapo

Sergei Pavlovich Roldugin, 70, is a childhood pal of the Russian president who launched Putin to his future, and now former, spouse Lyudmila and is the godfather of their eldest daughter, Maria. A graduate of the Leningrad State Conservatory, Roldugin is knowledgeable cellist who serves in numerous senior positions in St. Petersburg music and humanities organizations, together with the famed Mariinsky Theater and the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. However Roldugin’s position in Putin’s internal circle has nothing to do with mastering Tchaikovsky (although it does assist). Certainly, whereas most of Putin’s inner-circle come from the worlds of espionage, Rodulgin’s artsy background is the right cowl for safeguarding a portion of Putin’s private fortune — together with as much as $2 billion managed by way of Roldugin’s brother that have been uncovered by the Panama Papers. In his autobiography, Putin says he and Roldugin “met [in 1977] and have by no means parted. He is rather like a brother to me. Earlier than, after I had nowhere to go, I went to him and slept and ate with him.” 

Ramzan Kadyrov
Ramzan Kadyrov
REUTERS

The second-generation sycophant

Ramzan Kadyrov is the brutal chief of the Russian province of Chechnya whom Putin lately promoted to lieutenant-general within the Russian navy as a reward for his position within the Ukraine invasion. Like his father, Akhmad Kadyrov — who fought for Chechen independence however then later switched sides — the junior Kadyrov is a staunch Putin supporter. In 2015, he was implicated within the homicide of the distinguished Putin critic Boris Nemtsov who was gunned down on a Moscow bridge whereas he was getting ready a report about Russia’s position within the Crimea battle. At present, Kadyrov is gearing as much as ship 4 Chechen battalions to Ukraine to assist replenish exhausted Russian forces. His fighters, referred to as Kadyrovtsy, are feared for his or her viciousness and have been on the hunt for Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, presumably to assassinate him. Kadyrov, 45, alongside The Wagner Group’s Dmitry Utkin, is one in all Putin’s two principal hitmen exterior of Russia, covertly killing off his boss’ enemies with out getting Putin’s palms soiled. The Chechen warlord stated in July that he’s standing prepared for Putin’s order to blow Western nations to “smithereens.”

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