In a surprising turn of events, a former member of Russia’s Presidential Security Service (Paspampres) has shed light on the vulnerabilities of President Vladimir Putin while taking a bold step to seek refuge in Ecuador.
Vitaly Brizhaty, a former security agent at the prestigious Olivye palace, one of the two Russian palaces situated in Crimea, has made headlines by fleeing his homeland due to his principled opposition to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Brizhaty joins a select group of former Paspampres members who have openly voiced their criticisms of their former commander, with a particular focus on Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
In an exclusive interview with Dozhd TV, Brizhaty didn’t mince words when discussing Putin’s leadership, painting a portrait of a leader perpetually gripped by fear.
According to Brizhaty, Putin’s profound fear has led to a level of distrust so significant that the President struggles even to place trust in his own security personnel.
As reported by Radio Free Europe, Brizhaty provided a telling example of Putin’s caution. When Putin intends to visit Crimea, the Kremlin often announces his arrival at two separate airports to maintain an air of secrecy. However, Putin, it seems, sometimes opts to arrive via a discreet maritime route.
“This is what consumes this man’s life,” Brizhaty remarked during the interview.
Brizhaty went on to disclose that Putin has imposed strict restrictions on the ability of Federal Protection Service (FSO) personnel, including Paspampres members, to communicate with relatives from Ukraine, citizens of the United States, European Union nationals, or anyone openly opposing the war in Ukraine. Violating these restrictions could lead to legal consequences for the Presidential security team.
This revelation has left Brizhaty and others in a state of anxiety, as maintaining contact with friends living abroad could potentially expose them to scrutiny by Russian authorities. In particular, Brizhaty cited the case of a friend residing in the United States who vehemently opposes Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Fearful that even a mere “like” of pro-Ukraine content could invite investigation, Brizhaty described the situation as “crazy.”
Brizhaty’s journey to Ecuador began during the early stages of the invasion. Faced with the moral dilemma of supporting actions he deemed unjust, he contemplated leaving the FSO. However, he soon learned that leaving his duties might result in his being dispatched to participate in the conflict in Ukraine.
Throughout his service in Crimea, Brizhaty had a personal connection to the region—his wife hails from there. She successfully secured residency status in Ecuador as a worker, and Brizhaty, too, was granted permission to reside there.
Regrettably, holding residency status in a foreign country ultimately led to Brizhaty’s dismissal from the FSO. Russian security service personnel, including Paspampres, are prohibited from holding foreign passports or residency permits.
Following his dismissal, Brizhaty made the courageous decision to seek refuge in Ecuador, where he now resides with his wife.
Brizhaty’s actions have thrust him into the spotlight as he joins the ranks of individuals willing to speak out against what they perceive as injustice. His story serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities within Russia’s leadership and the courage it takes to challenge the status quo.