Top Putin propagandist calls for return of Stalin’s notorious SMERSH spy agency

In response to the humiliating attack on the bridge linking Russia to Crimea across the across the Kerch Strait, Vladimir Solovyov – a TV host known to be close to Russian leader Vladimir Putin – has called for a return of Stalin’s brutal secret police.

Solovyov has said the authorities should round up all Russians opposed to the war on Ukraine.

This comes as a leading Ukrainian presidential aide has claimed the bridge explosion, which is believed to have cost three lives, was ordered by one of Vladimir Putin’s opponents within the Russian military.

READ MORE: Putin to take 'revenge' for Crimea bridge blast as expert warns war 'might go nuclear'

Mykhailo Podolyak alleged that Russia’s hated FSB secret service – in overall charge of the damaged bridge’s security – and the defence ministry are at loggerheads in a bitter recriminations over the Russia's numerous defeats in Ukraine

He said: “Isn’t it obvious who made [the] explosion? Truck arrived from RF [Russian Federation]”

The FSB and Putin’s private military armies – actively deployed in the war – are seeking to “eliminate” the leadership of the Defence Ministry and army general staff, he said.

The theory is that the bridge blast was ordered by one of the rival military or security factions who another expert has said are “fighting like ferrets in a sack”.

Another version is that it could have been commissioned from inside the Russian establishment to fatally weaken Putin and trigger his toppling.

“It might be the SBU [Ukrainian secret service] but it also could be the first major sign of a bid from within Russia to incapacitate the Kremlin tsar,” said a Western diplomatic source.

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Alluding to an enemy within, Putin’s favourite propagandist Solovyov called for a return of the brutal Stalin-era SMERSH counter-intelligence agency to crush all internal opposition to full-scale war.

SMERSH – its name is an abbreviation of the Russian phrase Death to Spies – was used by Stalin to obliterate subversion in and soon after the Second World War.

The name was later used by author Ian Fleming for a shadowy spy organisation in some of the early James Bond books .

Solovyov raged against Ukraine and the West, accusing them celebrating the burning crossing.

“The West applauds Ukrainian terrorists,” he posted.

“It is obvious that the NATO command took part in the development of this sabotage.

He slammed the Russian military commanders who “have given up the initiative”. Russia was showing “weakness” and giving its enemy “an excuse to mock us," he said.

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Solovyov demanded: “For the Western world we are already villains [so] let them be afraid of us, rather than us be bullied.

“It's time to answer using all means and tools.”

He demanded a World War Two-style approach as conducted by tyrant Josef Stalin.

“It's time to remember Soviet military training and act decisively and creatively,” he said.

“Not following the enemy's scenario, but breaking their plans, striking unexpected blows in directions where the enemy is not expecting them.

"Ukraine should be plunged into dark times.

“Bridges, dams, railways, thermal power plants and other infrastructure facilities should be destroyed throughout Ukraine.

“There should be no administrative quarters in Kyiv and Lviv, and not only there.”

Russia should also attack the West but not by “summoning ambassadors”.

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He warned: “If anyone still has not understood this, then he should be replaced by those who clearly and clearly comprehend that the Fatherland is in danger.

“And the orders of the Supreme Commander [Putin] must be carried out – unquestioningly and absolutely.

“The country should switch to a military mode – entirely."

This should include SMERSH making a return, he demanded.

“Everything for the front, everything for victory,” he demanded.

SMERSH's wide-ranging remit in the Stalin era was to wipe out “anti-Soviet elements” and hunt down traitors – either real or imagined, ruthlessly liquidating dissidents and Red Army deserters.

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