Russian President Vladimir Putin purged more than 100 Federal Security Bureau (FSB) agents over the country’s early failures in the invasion of Ukraine, Fox News reports.
The Times of London on Monday reported that about 150 officers at the FSB, the successor to the KGB, were dismissed.
The agents were part of the Fifth Service, a division that Putin, then the director of the FSB, created in 1998 to focus on keeping Russia’s neighbors in its orbit.
Authorities placed Sergei Beseda, the former chief of the Fifth Service, under house arrest last month.
He has since been sent to the FSB-run Lefotovo prison in Moscow, which was used to torture prisoners during the Stalin era.
“Very strong message”:
The purge sent a “very strong message” to other elites in Russia, Andrei Soldatov, an expert with the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), told The Times.
"I was surprised by this," he said. "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."
Soldatov suggested that Russian authorities may have suspected Beseda of passing information to the CIA, though analysts say that the arrest appeared to be punishment for intelligence failures in Ukraine.
The Fifth Service represents "the most sensitive department of the FSB department, which is in charge of espionage in Ukraine,” Soldatov said. “And now it looks like Vladimir Putin finally understood that the intelligence he was given before the invasion was not extremely accurate. And he has started looking around trying to find someone to blame."