Sergei Shoigu, one of Putin’s closest allies, last appeared in public on March 11. Russian investigative journalism website Agentstvo says the defense minister, who has been blamed for the failed war with Ukraine, has “heart problems”.
With the invasion going much worse than he expected, Vladimir Putin has been trying to find scapegoats. The first victims are said to have been the director of the Fifth Service of the FSB (Russian security agency, successor to the KGB), Colonel General Sergei Beseda, and his deputy, who were allegedly interrogated on March 11 and then placed under house arrest. The FSB’s Fifth Service has the Ukraine espionage portfolio. General Roman Gavrilov, deputy commander of Rosgvardia (national guard), followed on March 17.
But attention has mostly focused on Sergei Shoigu, 66, Russia’s all-powerful defense minister, one of Putin’s closest friends and chief responsibility for Russian military strategy. The last time he was filmed or photographed in public was 12 days ago (the same day as Sergei Beseda’s interrogation), when he visited Mandryk Central Hospital to hand out medals of courage to soldiers wounded in the Ukrainian war.
After that, a meeting at the Security Council was reported to discuss the invasion, and there was also a television report on Channel 1, in which Shoigu will have handed out more medals, but there are no images of any of these moments. The report, by the way, used a photograph taken from the video of the hospital visit, on March 11, says the Russian investigative journalism website Agentstvo. The most recent news about the minister on the Ministry of Defense’s official website also dates from that day.
A source close to Sergei Shoigu, heard by Agentstvo, says that the minister is sick, with heart problems. Shoigu was last photographed with Putin at the famous long table in the Kremlin, several meters away from the president, at the February 27 meeting, three days after the invasion of Ukraine began. Beside him was also the Commander of the Armed Forces, General Valery Gerasimov.
Source: with agencies