Two of Vladimir Putin’s allies were reportedly caught pursuing the Russian president, who in a leaked conversation called him “Satan” and a “dwarf.”
Oligarch and former Russian senator Farkhad Akhmedov, 67, and high-profile music producer Iosif Prigozhin, 53, both alleged supporters of Putin, have been charged with insulting the Kremlin.
An audio recording of what is believed to be a 35-minute phone conversation between the two was shared by Ukraine’s Channel Five and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
In the clip, the pair can be heard discussing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, challenging the Kremlin for its shortcomings and insulting its greatness.
Public criticism of Putin is rare in Russia, and those found guilty of insulting the Russian state, the military or Putin himself risk fines and even jail time.
Since its publication, several Ukrainian and independent Russian media – including Meduza – have analyzed the audio recording allegedly made on January 24.
According to Meduza, Akhmedov can be heard saying that the Russian government has “ruined us, our children, their future, their fate”, referring to Putin’s war in Ukraine.
“He is Satan,” he adds, before criticizing Russia’s Security Council Vice Chairman Dmitry Medvedev, who also served as Russia’s president for four years.
Akhmedov is heard saying: “These two [Putin] and the second [Medvedev] are notorious. Lilliputians are goddamn scrubs, notorious,” reports Meduza.
Putin is known to be sensitive about his six-foot height – with claims that he suffers from the “Napoleon complex”.
Speaking of the invasion, 53-year-old Prigozhin says Russian authorities are losing to “Kvartal 95” – the name of the production company founded in 2003 by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, when he was still an actor and entertainer.
“Dass sie sagen, dass sie immer wieder gegen sie kämpfen, haben sie selbst begründet. He [Putin] was thrown into this garbage. Er ist darauf hereingefallen“, soll Prigoschin zu Achmedow gesagt haben, reported Meduza.
“To be honest, fuck it, I’d quit, get the Nobel Prize and the King would leave. Hell, I’ve given up on the country,” he added.
He says, “He can’t go back, he can’t go forward. That’s how he will be.”
According to Meduza, the F-word is said 157 times in the recording.
The voice, which sounds identical to Prigozhin, says during the call that the elite are “guilty”. [Russian defence minister Sergei] Shoigu for everything.’
Shortly after the chat was leaked, Prigozhin desperately claimed the recording was generated by “neural networks,” Meduza reports.
Er sagte: Gefälschte Audioaufnahme von angeblich meiner Stimme und einem Spoelräch mit einer einflussreichen Person. I want to say that with today’s technologies, neural networks, you can fake not only a voice, but also a conversation.
“You know, the internet has turned into a big mess where there’s something useful and you can devalue and discredit anyone. Jeder kennt meine politische Position, sie ist in allen Interviews und in der Öffentlichkeit präsent.’
He later admitted that some sentences in the conversation were genuine, saying in an interview that he “didn’t clearly remember the conversation.”
“People in a private conversation can talk about anything. The most important thing is that you speak in practice and how you act in life and in different circumstances,” said Meduza. He said he had last spoken to Akhmedov in January.
He admitted that he feared the consequences he might face given the audio recording, saying that although he and Akhmedov uttered some of the sentences from the recording, they had been changed.
Journalists disputed Prigozhin’s claim that the clip was fake. Vadim Vostrov, head of the independent TV channel, stressed: “This cannot be faked or compiled.”
The “intonations and nuances” made it clear that this was a real recording.
Journalist Dmitry Kolezev said the recording appears “genuine” but “contains many details that are very difficult to make up and fake”, with exact voice matches and “nature of communication”.
“For the first time we heard what some members of the Russian elite really think and feel,” he said. “They hate Putin, they are aware of the magnitude of the catastrophe and understand that the country has no future with Putin.
I am Jack Morton and I work in 24 News Recorder. I mostly cover world news and I have also authored 24 news recorder. I find this work highly interesting and it allows me to keep up with current events happening around the world.