Vitaly Brizhaty, a former security officer, sheds light on the inner workings of one of President Vladimir Putin’s opulent palaces, highlighting a tense environment rife with power struggles and vigilant surveillance. In an interview with Insider, Brizhaty, who recently left Russia and the Federal Protective Service (FSO), offers a unique perspective on the toxic atmosphere that permeates Putin’s inner circle.
Based on documents and Brizhaty’s resignation letter, it is confirmed that he served in the FSO, the agency responsible for safeguarding high-ranking officials, including Putin. Brizhaty, a dog handler, was stationed at the Olivye palace, a sprawling complex utilized by Putin since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
According to Brizhaty, preparations for Putin’s visits involved meticulous security arrangements, with the FSO conducting thorough inspections of designated areas. The secrecy surrounding Putin’s itinerary highlights the extent to which he mistrusted even his own security personnel.
The Olivye palace itself is described as a lavish enclave, featuring extravagant amenities ranging from ice-hockey rinks to luxurious dormitories. Brizhaty underscores that every member of the staff, regardless of their role, is affiliated with the FSO, emphasizing the pervasive security apparatus within the compound.
While Brizhaty quietly aligned with the views of Alexei Navalny, a dissident Russian campaigner, he notes that most of his colleagues remained loyal to the regime. A sharp-elbowed working culture prevailed, with an undercurrent of suspicion and a propensity to report on colleagues as a means of advancement.
Brizhaty’s resistance to the war in Ukraine prompted him to offer his resignation, but it was rejected, and he faced the threat of imprisonment for his anti-war stance. Ultimately, he found an opportunity to leave the country, accompanying his wife to Ecuador.
Reflecting on his experience, Brizhaty critiques the stark divide between Putin’s extravagance and the struggles of the Russian populace. He contends that Putin should prioritize the interests of the people over his own self-preservation.
In this analytical exploration, Vitaly Brizhaty provides a rare glimpse into the insular world of Putin’s inner circle, offering valuable insights into the power dynamics and surveillance culture within one of Russia’s most guarded compounds.