Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s 20-year reign will come to an end within a year, a former MI6 spy has predicted, adding that his replacement will be terrifying. Christopher Steele, who ran MI6’s Russia desk between 2006 and 2009, claimed the West needs to “prepare for the end of the Putin era”.
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Putin’s control of Russia appears to be over after the Wagner rebellion and the disastrous Ukraine war, it has been claimed.
After the extraordinary mutiny from Yevgeny Prigozhin, experts have warned that the Kremlin’s “poisonous spiders” were out for blood.
Mr Steele suggested the tyrant could be assassinated by internal rebels or by a plot from outside of Russia.
He told Sky News this would be the worst scenario for the West as “all bets would be off” – with likely “bloodshed”.
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The former MI6 spy also spoke about the “very credible sources telling us he’s been ill for some time”. He added that Putin could die suddenly from illness.
Mr Steele explained that the Russian leader could be ousted by an armed rebellion, or even decide it’s time to go and step down at the next election in March 2024.
However, he explained that the most likely ending for Putin will be a “violent” move to kill or topple him.
He said: “A move is made violently, if necessary, to kill or topple Putin in favour of another securocrat or regime oligarch.
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“But [it will be] one who has distanced themselves from the war and is prepared to negotiate on ending it genuinely with the West.”
Mr Steele believes that FSB director Alexander Bortnikov could be one of the frontrunners to take power from Putin.
He said “rising star” Aleksey Dyumin, the governor of Tula oblast, is another potential successor, along with oligarch Igor Sechin and former Russian prime minister Viktor Zubkov.
Bortnikov is the current director of Russia’s FSB – making him one of the most powerful people in Russia and as an influential member of Putin’s inner circle.
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