How Putin’s powerful inner circle dubbed ‘The Ozeros’ are plotting to topple him to finally end Ukraine war

VLADIMIR Putin’s inner circle are plotting to oust the tyrant to end his disastrous war in Ukraine, a former Russian officer warned.

Igor Girkin claimed that Putin’s cronies – dubbed “The Ozeros” – plan to sabotage Russian military operations in the wake of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s astonishing armed rebellion.

AFPPanicked Putin is desperately trying to cling to power after Wagner’s lightning mutiny[/caption]

GettyPutin talks to his aide Andrei Fursenko – a member of the so-called Ozeros[/caption]

GettyRussian businessman and billionaire Vladimir Yakunin – one of Putin’s inner circle[/caption]

ReutersNikolai Shamalov – another of Putin’s closest aides[/caption]

Set up in 1996, the Leningrad-based group includes some of Russia’s wealthiest and most powerful businessmen and bankers – with many climbing to top positions in the Kremlin.

Girkin – a prominent Russian military blogger – claims the loyal circle are now plotting to topple Putin to put a stop to the war in Ukraine.

He claimed they would target Russia’s ministry of defence, the FSB and other major government departments – and replace Putin.

Prigozhin’s steaming rebellion came to an abrupt halt after he struck a deal with Putin – putting an end to a bloody 24 hours that saw Wagner forces reach within 125 miles of Moscow.

But Girkin believes Prigozhin’s mutiny was successful as it sparked a furious power struggle in the crumbling Kremlin – and the lightning mutiny exposed cracks in Putin’s increasingly weak grip on power.

At least eight Russian top brass have been detained or suspended in a mass purge as Putin’s defence chief roots out the “bad blood” in the Kremlin.

It’s thought a number of Putin’s inner circle knew about the coup before it happened.

As Putin scrambles to maintain his rule, Girkin said his powerful inner circle now want to oust him – and bring in Wagner boss Prigozhin or Sergey Kiriyenko, Putin’s chief of staff.

According to Russian outlet Meduza, Kiriyenko, 60, is already trying to position himself as a possible successor to Putin.

Girkin said: “The powers within the ruling mafia are currently being redistributed as, or close to, planned by the conspirators behind the coup.

“The ‘Shoigu-Vorobiev-Sobyanin Tower’ has lost some of its positions although not completely demolished, and part of its influence and resources ‘flows’ into a group of oligarchs.

“This group, vitally interested in ending the war ‘on any terms’ – will not let us win in any case and will lead the president to realise the need to accept defeat and transfer supreme power to a successor nominated from this group.

“In the coming months, we should expect new campaigns aimed at ‘inoculation’.”

Putin has built his entire political system around loyalty – and “The Ozeros” rise to power and wealth on the tyrant’s coat tails has raised many eyebrows over the years.

Vladimir Yakunin rose to become head of state-run Russian Railways, while Yuri Kovalchuk became the head of the successful Bank Rossiya.

And Andrei Fursenko is now a Kremlin aide.

Yakunin described “The Ozeros” as “a small group of people united by common interests and, of course, loyal to our country, wanted to do all we could for everything to turn out alright”.

Tom Roberts, professor of Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies at Smith College, said “the mutiny exposed disagreement and instability among Russia’s elites, including military leadership”.

“Putin’s actions also seem to confirm this, as the president has been eager to project his control of the armed forces, and to declare that national unity ensured the defeat of the mutiny,” he added.

Mikhail Rostovsky, a Russia politics expert, said Prigozhin may be a frontrunner to take over for Putin.

“If Wagner is indispensable for the Russian state, then Prigozhin is indispensable for Wagner,” Rostovsky said.

“The heads of official Russian power and law enforcement agencies are easily changed with the help of a single presidential decree.

“In the case of the structure created by Yevgeny Prigozhin, everything is quite different.

“Wagner is Prigozhin, and Prigozhin is Wagner, and out of conjunction with each other, they simply cannot exist – or, if they can, then with a sharply reduced efficiency.

“Likewise, Wagner cannot exist without Russia and without the Russian state budget.”

It’s already been suggested by security experts that MI6 spies could help oust Putin by wooing Russian coup plotters with cash, gold Rolexes or even Wimbledon seats.

It comes after leaked Pentagon docs suggested Putin was allegedly undergoing chemotherapy – and his inner circle could be using his suspected ill health to plot against him.

The highly-sensitive treasure trove of US spy documents fuel the fire of speculation concerning Putin’s deteriorating health.

A “top secret” page contains the rumour that high-ranking Kremlin officials intend to “throw” the war in Ukraine as a ploy to “sabotage” Putin.

The alleged plan is hinged on Putin being incapacitated while receiving chemotherapy treatment.

Rumours of Putin’s failing health have been swirling for months and the topic has remained a solid source of speculation within Western intelligence circles.

Explosive spy documents leaked to The Sun Online appeared to confirm the Russian leader has both pancreatic cancer and early stage Parkinson’s disease.

AlamySergey Fursenko – one of Putin’s allies[/caption]

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