Ukraine has alleged that a group of Russian elite have plotted to have President Vladimir Putin poisoned.
This was revealed on Sunday in a Facebook post by the chief directorate of intelligence for the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.
“Poisoning, sudden illness, accident – Russia’s elite is considering removing Putin,” the Facebook post said. “Their goal is to remove Putin from power as soon as possible and restore economic ties with the West that were destroyed by the war in Ukraine.”
The post added that a successor for Mr Putin had been considered. Alexander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), was named the favoured substitute.
“It is known that Bortnikov and some other influential representatives of the Russian elite are considering various options to remove Putin from power,” the intelligence chief said.
This information from Ukraine’s intelligence came after reports saying Mr Putin had sacked over a thousand personal staff members over poisoning fears.
The Daily Beast, citing a source who works in a Russian ministry, reported that Mr Putin in February sacked some cooks, secretaries and bodyguards, replacing them with a new group of attendants.
A former operative for France’s General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) told The Daily Beast that Russian intelligence was one of few security outfits still using poison.
The former operative, unnamed, noted poisonings dating back to 1957 when KGB defector Nikolai Khokhlov was poisoned, and in 2004, an assassination attempt was made on Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko.