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The deputy chief of Russian’s National Guard was reportedly detained Thursday amid news that Russian President Vladimir Putin is cracking down on disloyalty within his ranks following the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian Gen. Roman Gavrilov, of Rosgvardia, the internal military force of the Russian Federation that reports directly to the president of the Russian Federation, was detained by the Russian security and counterintelligence agency, Federal Security Service (FSB), according to Christo Grozev, CEO of the Netherlands-based investigative journalism group Bellingcat.
The reason for Gavrilov’s detention wasn’t immediately clear. Grozev said one of his sources told him that Gavrilov was detained by the FSB’s military counter-intelligence department over “leaks of military info that led to loss of life,” while two other sources said the reason was for “wasteful squandering of fuel.”
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Rosgvardia is a unit of the Russian Federation’s internal army that reportedly suffered heavy losses in Ukraine during the three weeks since the invasion began on Feb. 24.
Gavrilov previously worked for the Federal Protective Service (FSO) tasked with Putin’s security.
Russian state-run media reported on Thursday that Gavrilov had been fired.
In a message to Telegram, senior United Russia official Alexander Khinshtein said despite his dismissal, reports that Gavrilov had been arrested were “totally untrue.”
This comes as Putin said in an address on Wednesday that his country will undergo a “self-purification” of “traitors” as Russian troops continue to bombard Ukrainian civilians and advance toward Kyiv.
“The Russian people will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and simply spit them out like a fly that accidentally flew into their mouths,” Putin said on Wednesday. “I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to respond to any challenges.”
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After the speech, flight trackers purportedly detected a mass exodus of private jets flying out of Moscow and toward Dubai, suggesting that Russian oligarchs may have fled anticipating Putin’s crackdown.
At least 14,980 people have been detained across Russia since the war in Ukraine began on Feb. 24, according to OVD Info, an independent organization monitoring political persecutions.
Anti-war protests broke out in several Russian cities last month. Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova, who was arrested and released after protesting the war in Ukraine live during a Russian state-run media broadcast, told the BBC that the Russian people have been “zombified” by propaganda.
The German news outlet BILD reported on Thursday that Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov was halfway to Beijing Wednesday night when his plane turned around abruptly and returned to Moscow. The outlet said it was unclear if Putin called him back or if the Chinese canceled any planned meeting.
Bellingcat also tracked a Russian government plane that turned around over Novosibirsk had landed in Moscow after spending eight hours airborne.
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Fox News has not yet independently verified the report about Lavrov. When asked about the BILD report on Thursday, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian declined to comment.
Lavrov appeared for a televised press conference on Thursday in Moscow with the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The pair reportedly discussed trade as well as Western sanctions, which have crippled the Russian economy and disrupted global energy markets, according to Reuters.
The White House revealed on Thursday that President Biden will speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a call on Friday to discuss the Russia-Ukraine war and competition between China and the U.S.