Putin has been seen as facing pressure within Russia but from an even more bellicose and hardline faction


  • An ex-Kremlin activist said Putin's 'half-God' persona changed after he launched the invasion of Ukraine
  • Putin is now constantly surrounded by security guards
  • The Russian leader was seen nervously playing with the zipper of his parka in a recent propaganda video

Russian President Vladimir Putin is now spending more time in the bunker as Moscow continues to suffer massive losses in the war in Ukraine, former Kremlin insiders said.

Before the war, Putin was photographed riding a horse bare-chested, making him appear like a "half-god" to the Russian people. His persona, however, changed after he launched the invasion of Ukraine. Now, Putin allegedly often stays in a bunker, Robert Schlegel, a former Kremlin activist who filmed several pro-Putin propaganda videos, told The Daily Beast.

"Putin was half-God for everybody who believed in him," Schlegel said, adding, "Now he is older, and indeed, a significant amount of his time he spends in some bunker with a limited number of people who have access."

Schlegel's remark was echoed by Olga Bychkova, a long-time Kremlin observer and former presenter on the Echo of Moscow radio station, who said Putin's publicity stunts have "degraded" following the invasion. Bychkova also pointed to a recently released video where the Russian president was seen nervously playing with the zipper of his parka while visiting the temporarily occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

"Putin's left his comfort zone in the bunker, where he has spent three years, and it is phenomenal to see how his publicity stunts have degraded," Bychkova told the outlet. "He is surrounded by security guards. No professional cameramen have access to him any longer."

These remarks by the former Kremlin insiders come as Russia continues to suffer mounting military losses in the war in Ukraine. As of Tuesday, Moscow lost a total of 171,730 military personnel in combat, as per estimates from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The figure included 570 soldiers killed over the past day.

In addition to military losses, Russia has also lost more than 3,600 tanks, 6,900 combat armored machines, 2,600 artillery systems, 2,200 UAVs and 5,500 vehicles and fuel tanks in the conflict, according to the ministry.

Russian forces have been relentlessly attempting to take over the embattled Ukrainian towns of Avdiivka and Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast but have struggled to capture new ground. However, the frequent attacks have turned Avdiivka into a ruined city, forcing Ukrainian residents to live in their basements, The New York Times reported.

Russian President Putin attends a news conference in Moscow