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A leaked tape of two Russian oligarchs mocking Vladimir Putin’s height and despairing about the outcome of the Ukraine war has gone viral in Russia, despite a crackdown from state censors.
The 30-minute recording – which has not been independently verified – seems to be between Farkhad Akhmedov and Iosif Prigozhin.
Both of them are major Putin supporters, at least in public. Record producer Prigozhin, 53, has claimed the recording released in Ukraine is a “fake” but those who know the men insist it is genuine.
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The call has caused a sensation in Russia despite the story being censored by the state media – as it appears to show that in private Putin’s main cheerleaders have no respect for the Russian leader or his war.
The Russian leader is said to be sensitive about his height, standing only 5’7”, and the two mock the “Lilliputian”leader mercilessly in their expletive-filled chat.
Putin “doesn’t give a **** about anything, he doesn’t give a **** about the Motherland – he is a Satan,” said the voice sounding like Akhmedov, 67, evidently on a speaker phone.
As Prigozhin seemingly agrees, the billionaire likens the dictator to a dwarf or midget: “Both him [Putin] and the second [Dmitry Medvedev, ex-president, now deputy head of the Russian security council] are full of insecurities".
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“They are Lilliputians, *******, tiny, full of insecurities," Akhmedov says.
“Everyone hates, hates them.
“And the question is, whenever will this [the war] end?
“And what the **** will it end with?
“And how the **** to resolve it all after it ends?”
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The voice identified as Prigozhin says on the call that the Russian elite “blames [Russian defence minister Sergei] Shoigu for everything.
“Behind his back they call him a mother******.
“Their task is to knock him down, but they are not doing it yet…..
"Because somebody must be blamed for [the chaos].”
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TV station chief Vadim Vostrov is convinced that the recording is genuine, saying that the “intonations and nuances” clearly identified the two men.
He added that he had personally heard many other members of Russia’s ruling class speaking about Putin and his war “in approximately the same terms”.
Journalist Dmitry Kolezev agreed that the recording was genuine, and added that the two men should make themselves scare before Putin reacted: “In their place, I would urgently evacuate myself and loved ones from Russia – if they haven’t already – and not think about returning in the coming years.”
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He added: “For the first time we have heard what some members of the Russian elite really think and feel.
“They hate Putin, they are fully aware of the scale of the disaster and they understand that the country has no future with Putin.
“At the same time, they are frightened, not ready to do something themselves, and in fact they are simply waiting for the régime to collapse.”
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