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The Daily Vertical: Men In Black (Transcript)

  • Brian Whitmore

It's probably a good idea to keep a close eye on those tough guys standing behind Vladimir Putin sporting sunglasses and dark suits. Because you never know where one of them will pop up next.

One of the things that jumped out at me in last week's massive reshuffle of regional and federal elites was that yet another one of Putin's former bodyguards got a promotion when Yevgeny Zinichev was named Kalinigrad's new governor.

Now, Zinichev's rise has been nothing short of meteoric.

He rose from being a member of Putin's personal security detail to being head of the Kaliningrad branch of the FSB to being the region's governor in just a matter of years.

Zinichev's ascent mirrors that of another former Putin bodyguard, Aleksei Dyumin.

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He came out of nowhere to be named deputy defense minister in 2015 and then was named governor of the Tula region earlier this year.

And then, of course, there is Viktor Zolotov. He led Putin's security detail when the Kremlin leader was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg back in the '90s.

He accompanied Putin to Moscow, where he led the Federal Protection Service.

Today, he heads Russia's powerful National Guard, a 400,000-strong force that answers to Putin alone and has been called the Kremlin leader's Praetorian Guard.

And then, of course, there were those reports back in December that the Federal Guard Service, which oversees Putin's personal security detail, had dispatched a special task force to monitor the mood in the country's regions.

Here a bodyguard, there a bodyguard, everywhere a bodyguard.

It sort of makes you wonder, what exactly is Putin afraid of?

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