As per Ukraine's Defense Ministry and their Chief Directorate of Intelligence, an elite group of Russian natives are planning to make FSB head Alexander Bortnikov the President. The claim was made in a Facebook post by the Ukrainian organization, where they mentioned that the group was trying to assassinate current Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The post alleged:
"(The group members) are considering various options for removing Putin from power. In particular, poisoning, sudden illness, or other accident is not excluded."
It also claimed that Bortnikov had a recent falling out with Putin. According to Ukrainian intelligence, Bortnikov was responsible for analyzing the capacity of the Eastern-European country's military capability and made some "fatal miscalculations." This may have been the cause behind strong pushback from Ukrainian forces against Russian troops, who have reportedly delayed their plans in the conflict between the two nations.
What is known about Alexander Bortnikov?
Alexander Vasilyevich Bortnikov is a former KGB agent like Putin and has served as the director of Russia's spy agency FSB (the Federal Security Service) since 2008. As per the report from Ukrainian intelligence, until recently, Bortnikov was reportedly in Putin's inner circle and served as an advisor to the Russian President before falling out with him over the miscalculation in the Ukrainian conflict.
Earlier in the month, Ukraine's Security Council chief Oleksiy Danilov claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin had fired over eight generals amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Alexander Bortnikov's influential position and past with Putin had likely shielded him from removal. His group's alleged mistake of undermining the Ukrainian resistance has reportedly overwhelmed the Russian military.
As per The Guardian, the 70-year-old FSB head is considered to be one of the most influential members of the Silovik, which consists of other political members from defense, security agencies, or similar fields.
Early in his career, Alexander Bortnikov seemingly pursued a future as a railway engineer but joined the KGB two years after graduating from St. Petersburg State Transport University in 1973. Bortinikob apparently met Putin during their days in the agency in the 1970s.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Perm native served his expertise in FSB and was appointed as the head of the secret agency sometime around the late 2000s. During his career, Bortnikov was allegedly involved in UK-based Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko's demise. According to Russian magazine, The New Times, the 70-year-old ex-KGB man oversaw the poisoning of Putin's critic Litvinenko in 2006 in London.
Furthermore, a year later, Alexander Bortnikov was allegedly involved in the murder of Russian Central Bank Deputy Head Andrey Kozlov. At the time, he was also reportedly linked to a money laundering case that was being investigated by the authorities.
Throughout his career, Bortnikov has received multiple recognitions. These include four classes of Order of Merit for the Fatherland and the Russian Federation's Medal of Honor.