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Russia's President Vladimir Putin has been carrying out a 'Stalinist' purge of intelligence officials, according to a new report.
Putin's 'special military operation' is now in its seventh week. In the initial stages of the conflict, many were concerned over Russian forces seizing control of Kyiv, as the capital was rocked by shelling and blighted by deaths.
According to Christo Grozev, executive director of investigative organisation Bellingcat, an estimated 150 Federal Security Bureau (FSB) officers have been dismissed so far, with some even being arrested, The Times reports.
The mass purge has targeted employees with the Fifth Service, a division set up during Putin's past tenure as FSB director with the goal of keeping former Soviet Union countries in Russia's orbit.
Sergei Beseda, who earlier served as the service's chief, has since been sent to Lefortovo prison in Moscow after being placed on house arrest last month. He was sacked for 'reporting false information to the Kremlin about the real situation in Ukraine before the invasion', according to Grozev.
He added: "I can say that although a significant number of them have not been arrested they will no longer work for the FSB."
Beseda is being held on an embezzlement charge, but it's believed was arrested as a result of the failures in the Ukraine invasion.
Andrei Soldatov, an expert on the Russian security services, said Beseda's imprisonment has sent a 'very strong message'.
He said: "I was surprised by this. Putin could have very easily just fired him or sent him off to some regional job in Siberia. Lefortovo is not a nice place and sending him there is a signal as to how seriously Putin takes this stuff."
In mid-March, a source told Bellingcat that Roman Gavrilov, the deputy chief of the Russian national guard (Rosgvardia), had been fired and detained by the FSB's military counterintelligence department over 'leaks of military info that led to loss of life', while others claimed it was due to 'wasteful squandering of fuel'.
Philip Ingram, a former senior British military intelligence officer, told Insider: "[FSB officials] have failed at the beginning by not giving [Putin] a real understanding of the strength of the Ukrainian armed forces and their resolve to protect their homeland.
"But his military forces have also been feeding false information by saying they're better than they actually are. Therefore, it's almost a perfect storm for him."
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