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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Will Stewart & Chiara Fiorillo

Vladimir Putin cronies caught in leaked call where they called him a 'dwarf' and 'Satan'

Two supposed allies of Vladimir Putin have been caught in a leaked phone call calling the Russian dictator a "dwarf" and branding him "Satan".

Oligarch and ex-senator Farkhad Akhmedov and music producer Iosif Prigozhin strongly back Putin and his invasion of Ukraine publicly.

However in a 30-minute call allegedly made behind his back, they appeared to criticise him, claiming his most senior followers are turning on him, as well as his widely-criticised defence minister Sergei Shoigu and bagman Dmitry Medvedev.

Prigozhin, 53, has claimed the recording released in Ukraine is "fake" but those who know the two men insist it is genuine.

A voice sounding like Akhmedov, 67, said on a speaker phone that Putin "doesn't give a **** about anything, he doesn't give a **** about the Motherland - he is a Satan".

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Alexei Babushkin/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

The alleged phone call apparently seems to show billionaire Prigozhin agreeing as he likens Putin to a dwarf, saying: "Both him [Putin] and the second [Dmitry Medvedev, ex-president, now deputy head of the Russian security council] are full of insecurities.

"They are Lilliputians, ***, tiny, full of insecurities. 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?"

Putin - who often wears high-platform shoes - is known to be deeply sensitive about his diminutive 5ft 7inch height, with with claims he suffers from "Napoleon complex", while Medvedev, an ex-Russian president, at 5ft 4 inches is smaller.

The call has caused a sensation in Russia despite the story being censored by the state media - as it appears to show that Putin's main cheerleaders are privately contemptuous of him and his war.

The voice sounding identical to Prigozhin says on the call that the elite "blame [Russian defence minister Sergei] Shoigu for everything."

Oligarch and ex-Russian senator Farkhad Akhmedov (RBC)

He added: "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]."

In a raging diatribe, he slams one of Putin's oldest and closest KGB cronies Sergey Chemezov, now head of hi-tech giant Rostec, a key military supplier.

He said: "The * is responsible for the military-industrial complex and doesn't give a ****.

"They are the most ** up people in the world. My opinion is they behave like kings, like Gods.

"I can't say a single good word about them. They are ****."

Akhmedov says there is "collective guilt" at the top of Russia, adding: "They at the top are each responsible for their own sector, and they ** them all.

Iosif Prigozhin is one of Russia's most prominent music producers (Iosif Prigozhin)

"Not a good one left. [Putin] used to say the army was the key thing, and it turned out there was no army, too."

Putin believed he had a competent fighting machine but his circle "fooled him, they fooled him, they've been fooling him," he said.

"They live in their own reality, in their own world with their ex-secretaries as wives, and behave like they are special. Everything is just so ** up."

Akhmedov asks if Putin and his circle can cling on.

"I don't know," replies Prigozhin, who later released a video where he appears nervous but denies the call was genuine while admitting the voice sounds exactly like him.

He claimed it had been made using "neural" technologies.

Yet independent TV station chief Vadim Vostrov insisted: "This can neither be faked nor compiled." He added the "intonations and nuances" showed this was a genuine recording.

Putin was branded 'Satan' in the leaked phone call (AP)

He said: "I know that many representatives of the so-called ruling class, from [MPs] to governors, discuss similar things and in approximately the same terms." He added there was "so much offensive for Putin personally" in the call.

Journalist Dmitry Kolezev said the recording appeared "genuine" but said that "many details that are very difficult to invent and fake" with precise voice matches and "manner of communication".

"For the first time we have heard what some members of the Russian elite really think and feel," he said.

"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 regime to collapse."

He warned of retribution by Putin, especially over the slur on his height. "In their place, I would urgently evacuate myself and loved ones from Russia (if not already) and not think about returning in the coming years," he said.

A collapsed building in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian blogger Anatoly Shariy said the conversation was "real" and he has known about it for two weeks.

He called Prigozhin's denial "funny", adding: "The recording was made in Akhmedov’s room. Speaker phones are evil."

In a video, Prigozhin sought to limit the damage, saying: "A fake audio recording pretending to imitate my voice and a conversation with one influential man is spread online.

"When I listened to the recording, I nearly believed it was me. It is, of course, unpleasant that my voice is out there on the internet."

He claimed that "nowadays technologies and neural networks allow the faking not only of a voice, but even a chat, to discredit anyone."

Akhmedov did not initially comment on the recording reportedly made two months ago but only released now.

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