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One of Vladimir Putin’s former propaganda chiefs has dared the Russian leader to strike out at her, saying he “doesn’t have enough Novichok” to kill the growing number of people criticising his crumbling régime.
Marina Ovsyannikova, a former Russian state TV editor who once described her job as "producing Kremlin propaganda,” warned that there were danger signs that Russia could be plunged into a civil war as opposition to Putin grew among the country’s powerful élite.
Marina told Sky TV’s Beth Rigby that any opposition to Putin’s rule couldn’t come from ordinary Russians, because the state’s apparatus of repression was just too powerful.
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“I don't think that grass-root protests are possible,” she said. “You need to understand that there are three million people serving in the FSB, the police, let alone private security companies. We're talking about repressions of Stalin's scale.
She added that any potential popular leaders had already been locked up: “Navalny's in prison. There is no leader who would be able to consolidate people. There is no active organisation.
"So, I think the elites will divide and well…we don't know …this might not be a classic coup”.
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She said that while a conventional revolution is unlikely, someone from the Kremlin's inner circle might come to him one day and tell him “Vladimir, we're losing the war. It's time to go”.
“On the last day of the war, when Russia loses the war,” Marina said, “this will be his last day. This is clear. He fears for his life. He is in his bunker. He's isolated”.
But, she added, recent hints dissent from loyalists, such as Wagner mercenary group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin and Chechen warlord, Ramzan Kadyrov could be the first signs of an outfit civil war in Russia.
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“I hope Russia is not in for a civil war,” Marina said, “but there are some signs of it”.
She said that if Putin were to be removed – either because of assassination or ill-health – there could be an armed power struggle between his top henchmen.
But sooner or later, Marina believes, Russians will come back to a more Western-style firm of government: “Russians are used to democracy. They have lived in democracy. They have travelled. They've seen all the benefits of the civilised world”.
*Watch former Russian state TV editor Marina Ovsyannikova on the Beth Rigby Interviews… show, 9pm on Thursday May 11 on Sky News, or catch up with the Beth Rigby Interviews… podcast.
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