“They’ve lost their mojo,” one Russian journalist said to me apropos of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. Despite the conventional wisdom, this journalist believes the regime’s days are numbered, that it is too out of touch and has nothing to offer.

Much has been made of Putin’s pandemic-accelerated isolation apparent paranoia and other characteristics fitting of a KGB man two decades in power. A lot has been said too about potential witch-hunts within his security services for anyone who may have misled Putin with faulty intelligence before the war began. Another journalist, Roman Anin, has offered a more complete picture of who is calling the shots, feeding the Kremlin intelligence, and why their “mojo” may be spent in a recent article

Anin claimed some of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s entourage fled Ukraine along with their boss and are essentially under protection and on the payroll of Moscow – and their intelligence is out of date and skewed to their own interests. 

“The reason why this information was fake in some cases or exaggerated in others, is that these people, the elite of Yanukovich, had two main goals when they informed the FSB [Russia’s top security agency] about what was going on in Ukraine. Their first goal was to earn money because, you know, they were asking for a lot of money to do some kind of intelligence work in Ukraine. But the second reason is more important. Their desire was to go back to Ukraine and to actually get the power back,” Anin, the editor of “Important Stories” (Istories), told Fox News

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan, Armenia.
(Shutterstock, File)


He said that’s why they were already thinking about what positions they would occupy in occupied Ukraine, along with their work with the FSB. “In majority of cases, the information had nothing to do with what was really going on the ground.”

Anin talked about the security services crowd of Putin’s generation, his cronies, as people traumatized to a certain extent with the loss of empire and angry at the West, but who at the same time came to embrace many of the trappings of the free world, those things that were nominally forbidden under the Communist leadership of the USSR, like religion and money.  He claimed the office decor of these FSB men said it all. “You will see portraits of Derzhinsky (founder of the Soviet secret police) the founder of their ‘corporation,’ and you will encounter Orthodox icons. So, this kind of mixture of conspiracy theories with Orthodox mentality, and with this dream of revenge, is very important to understand Putin’s mentality and why he started the war.”

In this handout photo made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to celebrate International Women's Day, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

In this handout photo made from video released by the Russian Presidential Press Service, Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to celebrate International Women’s Day, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, March 8, 2022.
(Russian Presidential Press Service via AP, File)


One old security services conspiracy theory revolved around tapping into the thoughts of the late Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.  It came from a general of the Federal Guard Service, according to Anin. “He said that they were able to connect to Albright’s brain and reach her thoughts, and they found out that she hates Russians… this is [a] general from one of the most important Russian secret services, so can you imagine what these guys believe in?”

The other story Anin has recently made noise with concerned the younger of Putin’s two known daughters, Yekaterina Tikhonova.  So little is publicly known about her – a passion for acrobatic rock-and-roll (a rare non-Olympic sport), a failed marriage to a very rich Russian businessman, a big job that involves liaising between Russia’s business and scientific communities and now Anin’s allegation that her latest romantic partner is a famous Russian ballet dancer, and that they had a daughter together. For the past several years, Igor Zelensky ran the Bavarian State Ballet, and Anin said he believed Tikhonova lived with him for a period in Munich.

“We found out that from 2017 until 2019, she traveled to Munich more than fifty times because Igor Zelensky was the head of the State Ballet in Munich. And then the most important proof comes from anonymous source that sent us the documents and also emails of Tikhonova’s bodyguard, the Office of Presidential Security Service. And we saw he was booking hotels and tickets both for Zelensky, Tikhonova and their daughter. So this mixture of evidence made it clear that Tikhonova’s boyfriend or husband was Igor Zelenksy and that for a couple years the couple lived in Germany.”   


Apparently, due to his unwillingness to condemn the war publicly, Anin claimed Zelensky had to step down from his post in April, and it’s not clear where the couple is now living. The story rankled Anin for its inherent hypocrisy.

“When the war started, Putin said that Russians with Western mentality are national traitors. And simultaneously his daughter and son-in-law, official or unofficial, were living in Germany and they were working there. His own family wants to get everything they can from the West, but he doesn’t allow other people, all the young people who see themselves as part of the broader European society to be part of it.”

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