Putin is 'afraid his people will rise up' says Browder
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Just hours after Vladimir Putin celebrated his 70th birthday on Friday, October 7, the Russian president suffered a huge blow. Saturday saw sections of the 12-mile bridge, connecting Russia and Crimea, destroyed by an explosion. The Russian President, who has been in power for the past decade after he was elected for his third term in 2012, spent his birthday working in an unknown location in St. Petersburg. The war in Ukraine is not going how the President had hoped with Putin reportedly being described as “nervous” and “tense” nowadays, isolating himself in nuclear bunkers. But it appears the President began cutting himself off, in a sense, long ago.
Putin admitted almost 20 years ago, in 2005, that he does not use a mobile phone for which he later gave a bizarre explanation.
In 2010, while he was Prime Minister, Putin explained that he neither has nor uses a mobile, nor his home phone. He said: “If I had a mobile phone, it would never stop ringing. More than that, when my home phone rings, I don’t ever answer it.”
A decade later, Putin was still holding firm in his refusal to use a smartphone as TASS state news agency reported in 2020 that he instead makes his calls on a special official phone that can ring any number he wants.
Putin’s apparent aversion to phones has sparked interest in Russia itself as a tabloid once speculated that he snatches the phone from the nearest security officers and uses that, should he want to make a call.
In 2020, Putin’s Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Komsomolskaya Pravda radio station that he does not have a smartphone, adding “it’s simply impossible”. But he previously gave another reason behind Putin’s refusal to use one.
Mr Peskov explained in 2018 in an interview with Rossiya-24 TV Channel that Putin – who worked as a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years before embarking on a political career – does not use a phone because of fears of snooping.
He added that using a phone means complete transparency as confidential data can be leaked. Mr Peskov said: “When you start a smartphone, you agree to make your matters public”.
The Russian President seemingly also has a distaste for the Internet, instead choosing to obtain information and news from his close circle of advisors as he is famously known to trust only a chosen few.
In 2014, during a meeting with Russian industrialists, Putin admitted that he “rarely” looks at the Internet. He said: “I rarely look at that, into that place where you apparently live, that Internet”.
When asked whether Putin reads publications about himself and his surroundings, TASS Russian News Agency reported in 2020 that Mr Peskov said Putin occasionally uses the Internet, but that he does not have much time to surf the Web.
Putin has been described as “isolated from reality”: not only has he refrained from using a smartphone and the Internet for years, but he relies on information that is brought to him from a small group of advisors.
Dr Peter Duncan, from UCL’s School of Slavonic and East European Studies, said in September: “[Putin] just doesn’t understand either about Russia, what people think in Russia, or about what people think abroad, which is, in other words, everywhere. And that’s why he makes mistake after mistake.”
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Sarah Rainsford, former BBC Moscow correspondent, explained on the corporation’s Putin podcast aired in April, why he appears isolated.
She said: “He’s famously a President who doesn’t have a smartphone, he relies on information that’s brought to him, in a way those providing information could have a lot of control.
“But on the other hand, there doesn’t appear to be many people who dare to stand up to him and to tell him truly what’s going on or what the consequences of that might be, or indeed if they do he just isn’t listening anymore.
“What we have now is a Russian President who is increasingly detached or divorced from reality and perhaps doesn’t care because he is on a mission as he sees it and he seems determined to carry it out to its awful and bloody end.”
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