From Vladimir Putin's Cancer to FSB’s Involvement in Boris Nemtsov's Assassination: Stories from the Russian Independent Media

Bodies of Ukrainian civilians killed in the Russian invasion lie on a street in the small city of Bucha of Kyiv (Kiev) area, Ukraine, 03 April 2022.
© EPA-EFE/MIKHAIL PALINCHAK   |   Bodies of Ukrainian civilians killed in the Russian invasion lie on a street in the small city of Bucha of Kyiv (Kiev) area, Ukraine, 03 April 2022.

Daruieste Viata

Although independent Russian journalists are basically banned in their country, many keep on working and their output can be found on Youtube shows, their Telegram channels, etc. The Proekt team, declared an undesirable organization in the Russian Federation last year, returns with an extensive investigation into Vladimir Putin's health problems. The Insider writes how, before being assassinated, the politician Boris Nemtsov was pursued by FSB agents later involved in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Russian publicists are also pondering the chances of Putin being tried by the Hague Tribunal for war crimes.

PROEKT writes about Putin’s deer antler baths and the oncologists that accompany him: “Investigation on Vladimir Putin’s 70th birthday”

They say that after 23 years of running the country, the president of Russia is interested in geopolitics alone. In fact, there is at least one other matter that concerns Putin, namely his own health. It seems that the president has reasons enough to worry. On the eve of the Russian president’s jubilee, PROEKT gives answers to the Kremlin’s most secret questions – who and how is treating Putin […].

Growing older, his health and longevity have become so important to the president that he’s also turned to non-traditional medicine. […]

The first representative of the Russian elite who got interested in deer antler baths (cut in the spring during the incipient formation, not yet ossified and full of blood) was Serghei Shoigu. In the mid-2000s, he took the president to Altai for the first time and convinced him that the procedure was useful, that it would improve the functioning of the cardiovascular system, and that it would rejuvenate the skin. As health was becoming a major interest for him, Putin took a deer antler bath. Those who know the president claim that he had been warned that there was no evidence of the benefits of the procedure. Putin, however, liked it and has returned to the Altai several times.

The attentive elite quickly noticed Putin's new passion. Bleeding antlers and other ways of maintaining youth have become very popular among officials. […]

Growing older, the size of the team of doctors accompanying him, including a surgeon who specializes in thyroid cancer, has become impressive […]

The number of doctors by the president’s side increases periodically and dramatically. In at least two cases, PROEKT can confirm that Putin underwent either an operation or a serious procedure, most likely in the back. On November 25, 2016, he met at the Kremlin with actor Steven Seagal, then disappeared until December 1 - the Kremlin's website publishes junk and announcements about telephone conversations. At that time, exactly 12 doctors were accommodated at the Rusi sanatorium. Initially, a group of Putin's personal doctors arrived. Afterwards, a group of neurosurgeons joined for two days. […]

In 2019, Putin needed help again. On the weekend of November 30 - December 1, the president was in Sochi, but did not appear in public, and a record number of doctors were also present - 13 people. […]

On February 13, 2019, the Russian leader received his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi. The two went skiing in the mountains. On the same days, two ICU doctors, a neurologist, a dermato-venereologist, two ENT doctors and a surgeon were accommodated at the “Polyana 1389 Hotel & Spa.”

ENT doctors Alexei Sheglov and Igor Esakov, as well as surgeon Evghenii Selivanov, are those who accompany Putin on most occasions. For example, over a period of four years, Sheglov flew to Sochi 59 times to be with Putin, and stayed there a total of 282 days. Selivanov - 35 times, 166 days.

This team was with Putin during his official stays in Sochi, but also during the head of state’s “disappearances”. In August 2017, Putin disappeared from the public eye between August 8 and 16. During this time, six doctors were in Sochi, including Sheglov and Selivanov, both of whom are very important to Putin.

Selivanov is a surgeon specializing in cancer. The theme of his doctoral dissertation is “The peculiarities of the diagnosis and surgical treatment of thyroid cancer in elderly patients” […]

ENT surgeon Sheglov is following Putin everywhere, appearing with the head of state including in photos taken during public demonstrations. […]

INSIDER: “The Defense Service against the Constitution: Boris Nemtsov, before the assassination, was tailed by the same FSB killers who poisoned Navalny, Bykov and Kara-Murza"

An investigtion by journalists with The Insider, Bellingcat and the BBC established that the assassins, from the same FSB group, who poisoned Alexei Navalnîi, Dmitrii Bîkov and Vladimir Kara-Murza, had been constantly following Boris Nemtsov over the last months of his life. He started being tailed after he initiated an active lobbying for the extension of the sanctions against Vladimir Putin's friends and ended on February 21, a few days before being shot near the Kremlin. Just two days before his assassination, those who had followed him started focusing on another anti-Putin activist and sanctions promoter, Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was later poisoned twice. The official investigation into Nemtsov's murder was based on the expertise of the Forensic Institute of the Federal Security Service (FSB), with which one of his followers had direct connections.

According to the ticket booking database, Nemtsov was followed by at least three FSB representatives - Valerii Suharev, Dmitry Suhinin and Alexei Kryoshekov (later, Suharev was part of the group of those who poisoned Kara-Murza, Bikov and Navalny, and Krykovekov participated at least in Navalny's poisoning). The trips took place between May 2014 and February 2015. The FSB members followed the same pattern used later in the case of the other victims: they would usually arrive a few hours or a day before Nemtsov and leave shortly before or after him, as not to cross paths.

During this period, I noticed 13 trips that coincided, including to Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod and Novosibirsk. The first trip took place between May 19-21, 2014. Exactly at that time Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Kara-Murza had an intense lobbying activity in the USA for the American sanctions against Putin’s closest circle. In late January 2014, Nemtsov met with US Republican Senators John McCain and Ron Johnson and sent them the names of 13 people to include in the sanctions list. […]

The extent to which the FSB representatives coordinated their actions with the Chechen assassins is difficult to determine, but a few details stand out - for example, the fact that the last move of the killers took place on 16-17 February 2015, and on 21 February the FSB assassins did not follow Nemtsov on his last trip to Yaroslavl; on the 27th he would be assassinated in Moscow. Did the FSB members already know that he was going to be killed, or did they not follow him for some other reason? The fact that on February 25, two days before the murder, the group of FSB assassins had already focused on another victim supports the first scenario. On that day, they began to tail another supporter of the sanctions against Putin's entourage - journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza. This group later poisoned the journalist twice with a neurotoxic substance (most likely Noviciok).

KASPAROV.RU: What are the chances of seeing Putin in the Hague?

The leader of fascist Russia, Vladimir Putin, is very likely to get to the defendants’ bench at the International Criminal Court. The status of head of state does not exclude an international arrest warrant – the former presidents of Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire have already seen that.

The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court covers four groups of crimes, and if the accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity can be limited to the level of Russian (de)generals, then Putin himself must be held responsible for the aggression against Ukraine.

The fact that Russia has not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court will not prevent Putin's trial. The statute provides for several alternative jurisdictional mechanisms, and Ukraine has already used them twice (in April 2014 and September 2015). Ukrainian authorities have recognized the ICC's right to try those guilty of crimes committed during the 2014 revolution and during the fighting in the east.

The very fact that Ukraine (not Russia and its DPR and LPR metastases) is the one that notified the Hague Tribunal to investigate the situation in Donbass demonstrates most eloquently which of the parties is interested in the truth. The Kremlin gang has had several legal options to lure the ICC into investigating the “genocide against Russians-speakers”, including through the UN Security Council. However, the “Nazis”, not their “victims”, addressed the international tribunal. […]

One important detail: Ukraine  has collaborated with the ICC, providing the requested information, but the Russian authorities has not responded to any of the Court’s requests.

Of course, extraditing Putin and his entourage to the Hague Court could become likely only after the fall of the regime. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of an international trip turning fatal for Putin: police forces from 120 countries will treat him as a criminal. The mere fact that there will be an international arrest warrant in Putin's name is a definite failure of his international career, a career that has always concerned Putin more than the domestic situation of his country has.

The possibility of prosecuting Putin in national jurisdictions should not be ruled out either (at least Ukraine and Germany are investigating the Kremlin's crimes). If we consider the fact that there would be other people willing to hold him accountable for blowing up the blocks in 1999, for Salisbury, for Aleppo, for MH-17, then the right to sue the person who is hiding in the bunker could trigger an international conflict.


Mariana Vasilache

Mariana Vasilache

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