Igor Sechin: Potential Putin replacement’s family ties to brutal FSB exposed

Putin mouthpiece says Russia is 'fighting for its land' on state TV

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Vladimir Putin is thought to have undergone a successful operation for cancer last week, according to a Telegram channel that claims to have unfettered access to the upper echelons of the Kremlin. The channel, General SVR, has been posting claims since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, its more recent posts focusing on the Russian president’s health. Said to be run by an ex-Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Lieutenant General, the channel claimed that there was a brief complication with Putin’s recovery period on Friday night but that it had since subsided.

It went on to claim that media appearances by Putin in the past week were either pre-recorded or images of deep fakes, artificial intelligence fuelled media in which an image or video of someone is replaced with someone else’s likeness.

Nikolai Patrushev, a former FSB counterintelligence service chief who currently heads Putin’s security council, is thought to be in control of Russia while the president recovers.

Although there will likely be many senior-ranking individuals in Russian political society that will have a hand in helping oil the machine, like Igor Sechin, a confidante of Putin since the early Nineties.

It was back then that Sechin worked as Putin’s chief of staff in his role as first deputy mayor of St Petersburg, the pair growing ever closer from this point.

Like Putin and many of his inner circle — known as the siloviki — Sechin’s background is in the KGB, the Soviet Union’s security agency and a precursor to the FSB, which has been widely criticised for corruption, human rights violations and secret police activities

And, like many of the sons and daughters of the siloviki, Sechin’s own children have ties to Russia’s FSB.

His daughter, Inga, graduated from Saint Petersburg Mining University and currently works for Surgutneftegasbank, a financial institution.

She married Dmitry Ustinov, a Russian intelligence agent and graduate of the FSB Academy, and son of former Prosecutor General and current Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District Vladimir Ustinov.

In 2003 the pair had a son, but they would later divorce for reasons unknown.

Inga went on to remarry, this time Timerbulat Karimov, a former investment banker and senior vice-president of VTB Bank — a Russian majority state-owned bank — from October 2011 until February 2014.

Karimov, according to ABTC, is on the board of directors for the Russian Copper Company, the third-largest in Russia and owned by Igor Altushkin.

Such companies in Russia often have direct contact with Putin given the vast sums of money involved in their businesses.

Sechin also has a son, Ivan, who graduated from the Lomonosov business school at Moscow State University and works closely with his father.

As of 2018, he has acted as First Deputy Director of the Department of Joint Offshore Projects at Rosneft, the oil company of which Sechin is both CEO and President, and which has attracted great controversy.

The US publisher, Stratfor, once noted of the company and Sechin: “[He] acts as boss of Russia’s gigantic state oil company Rosneft and commands the loyalty of the FSB. Thus, he represents the FSB’s hand in Russia’s energy sector.”

As boss of Rosneft Sechin plays a central role in Russia’s economy, reeling in annual revenues of trillions of rubles each year.

In 2020, Rosneft generated around 5.7 trillion rubles, this figure down around 30 percent from the year before.

The average Russian worker in 2021 made around 56,000 rubles a month.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU has targeted several individuals with close ties to Putin including Sechin, describing him as: “One of Vladimir Putin’s most trusted and closest advisers, as well as his personal friend.

“He has been in contact with the Russian president on a daily basis.”

Brussels suggests that Sechin has been rewarded by Putin for his work with Rosneft with sums of as much as £9.6million in 2015.

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