• Shoigu is believed to have had a falling out with Putin amid the slow progress of the invasion of Ukraine
  • Leonid Nevzlin said Shoigu's heart attack could be the result of an assasination attempt
  • Nevzlin believes Shoigu may be disabled if he survives 

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu suffered a heart attack that Russian-Israeli oligarch Leonid Nevzlin suggested could be a result of foul play.

Shoigu, 66, has served as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man and led the Russian army for a decade. He led the army in the early weeks of the war against Ukraine but has disappeared from recent Kremlin briefings amid suspicions of growing tensions with Putin in late March over the invasion’s slow progress.

While he was seen on a video conference with Putin and other ministers Monday, he did not speak. It is believed that the Kremlin used previously recorded footage of the defense minister. Intelligence reports from the U.S. also suggested that Putin and Shoigu had a falling out after the defense minister and his subordinates sugar-coated reports of the war.

It is now believed that Shoigu is in intensive care after suffering a “massive heart attack” as a result of an assassination attempt ordered by Putin, Nevzlin said in a Facebook post.

“Shoigu is out of the game, and may be disabled if he survives,” Nevzlin wrote, citing sources in Russia. “Rumor has it that a heart attack could have occurred not due to natural causes.”

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Nevzlin added that at least 20 Russian generals have been imprisoned over allegedly embezzling up to $10 billion that was supposedly allocated for the invasion effort in Ukraine.

“Everything is clear here - the total embezzlement of funds for the preparation of (taking over the leadership of Ukraine). Since 2014, about $10 billion (USD) allocated by Putin for the preparation of the blitzkrieg has been stolen,” Nevzlin said.

In the late 1980s, Nevzlin served as the director of Russia’s Centers for Scientific and Technical Creativity. He later became the president of the Menatep Bank in 1989, just two years before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Nevzlin went on to head a Russian news agency and became the vice president of the board of directors of the Yukos oil company. However, he fled Russia for Israel in 2003 when the Kremlin expropriated Yukos.

Nevzlin became one of Putin’s leading critics after he was sentenced to life imprisonment charges in 2008. He has denied all charges and accused the Russian president of silencing him and other critics.

Last month, Nevzlin announced his plans to give up his Russian passport in a show of support for Ukraine amid the war.

“Everything that Putin touches dies,” Nevzlin wrote in a Facebook post. “I am against the war. I am against the occupation. I am against the genocide of the Ukrainian people.”

In a possible sign of the troubles, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu disappeared from view for some two weeks this month
In a possible sign of the troubles, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu disappeared from view for some two weeks this month Russian Defence Ministry via AFP