An ex-Russian spy has revealed what it was like being interrogated by "sadistic" Vladimir Putin.
Sergei Jirnov, 62, was a member of the country's secret service for seven years until he became a refugee and was exiled to France in 2001.
He also trained at the Red Flag Institute, the same KGB school the dictator attended, before joining the security agency in 1984.
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However the former agent told The Sun he met "jealous" Putin four years prior – and was subjected to a grilling after the despot questioned his loyalty to Russia.
Jirnov said the pair crossed paths at the Moscow Olympic Games, where he spoke on the phone to a French citizen and asked for information about the event.
This led Putin to believe Jirnov was a spy for France and the now-Russian leader was quick to question him about his connections.
"When he interrogated me, I felt a strange pleasure of him," Jirnov continued. "He had a sadistic pleasure when interrogating people.
"I also felt a jealousy from him regarding the persons who are better than him. And this jealousy increased over the years."
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Putin reportedly believed he had caught his victim red-handed after he referenced a banned book during the interaction.
But Jirnov then revealed the book had been given to him by a "good friend" who was a relative of Leonid Brejnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party at the time.
This information left Putin "stunned" – and gave him no choice but to release Jirnov from his interrogation or risk backlash from Soviet leaders.
The pair met for the last time in 1990 at a reception, but Jirnov said Putin didn't speak to him.
Giving an insight into the dictator's thinking, he told L'Echo: "He wants to become eternal, which pushes him towards mystical things.
"He's a sociopath. He has no empathy. He's not rational anymore."
Now the former spy believes Putin, who has reportedly lost some favour in the Kremlin thanks to his failing Ukraine war, could be overthrown.
"I think Putin is the person the most detested by the Russian elites, because the war he started will be lost," Jirnov told The Sun.
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