A Russian senator and widow of the law professor who created Vladimir Putin as a politician has questioned the Russian dictator’s sanity.
Lyudmila Narusova, 71, has known the Kremlin president since he was a backroom nonentity working for her husband Anatoly Sobchak, then pro-Western mayor of St Petersburg.
Now the sole opposition figure in Russia’s upper house of parliament, she has launched a blistering critique of Putin, accusing him of inflicting ‘mass psychosis’ on the population.
For decades Narusova saw Putin as a family friend, but now questions his sanity as he plunges the country into mass repressions and war.
‘It appeared to me three years ago that he had a sane perception of reality,’ she said.
‘But many things have changed after these three years, and I never got to make sure of this myself.
‘I don’t know.’
She is convinced he is addicted to power and will seek to cling on despite his age and suspected health problems – dismissing rumours in Moscow that he plans to hand over the Kremlin to a trusted lieutenant.
‘There was a lot of stir about it [the transition of power in Russia] even before the start of the [military] operation,’ said Narusova.
‘There is a feeling about it in political circles.
‘But I think that there will be no transfer of power.’
Instead Putin will stand for a new six year team making him president until 2030, the year when he will turn 78, she told Forbes Russia.
Legally he could then seek yet another term, expiring when he was 84 but effectively making him ruler for life.
Narusova revealed the Russian elite is awash with people who disapprove of Putin – but are too scared to act against him.
‘I’m the only one who votes [against him],’ she told Novaya Gazeta Europe independent newspaper.
‘But there are enough people who think the same as me.
‘It’s just that they are afraid to speak it out loud.’
Putin’s biggest cheerleaders back him at Red Square rallies but ‘this does not mean that they actually sincerely support what’s going on’, she said.
‘One very respectable man with many years behind his belt said this to me “You’re the only one among us with balls of steel.”’
She loathes Putin’s repressive policies.
‘It feels bad. I tell you, this destroys me from within,’ she said.
‘If something is written in the constitution, but is treacherously and obligingly violated, then I cannot help but talk about it and even shout about it.’
She hit out the jailing of Putin critics who oppose his war for up to 25 years— when a St Petersburg history professor and Napoleon expert Oleg Sokolov, 66, who murdered and dismembered his lover Anastasia Yeschenko, 24, dumping her remains in a river in an ‘extreme atrocity’ was shut away for just 12 years.
‘This is what our justice has led us to. Words are worth more prison time than murder,’ she said, accusing Putin of corrupting the Russian constitution, which was partly penned by her husband.
Her spouse – who died in 2000 – had promoted an ex-KGB spy to deputy mayor, his first political job, and his launch pad to a career that has seen him rule Russia as president or prime minister since 1999.
She vowed to keep opposing Putin to trigger a ‘wake up call for some kind of consciousness’ in Russian people.
She wanted to sow ‘gleams of doubt amid this mass psychosis. I believe that is the primary function of what I do’.
Her daughter is prominent TV personality Ksenia Sobchak, 41, who stood against Putin at the 2018 Russian presidential election, finishing fourth.
Putin attended her Orthodox christening, leading to claims he is her godfather.
She now runs an independent media outlet which is often critical of Putin and the war.
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