Paranoid Putin promotes bodyguard to Minister after predecessors mystery death

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Vladimir Putin has promoted his former personal bodyguard to be Russia's new Emergencies Minister.

Nicknamed “the man without a face”, little is known about Major-General Alexander Kurenknov's, 49, past and background, apart from the fact that he used to work as a school teacher.

Some claims he had served in the FSB counterintelligence agency as well as the FSO, responsible for guarding senior officials.

Pictures show him as a bodyguard close to Putin on various visits.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Putin knows him well personally. And the choice means that, according to the head of the state, Kurenkov’s personal, service and professional qualities will allow him to serve in this function.”

Kurenkov is now the Russian President's sixth bodyguard to be appointed to a high government office.

Critics say an increasingly paranoid Putin only fully trusts those who have proved their loyalty by guarding his life.

The last man to hold the office was also an ex-Putin guard, Yevgeny Zinichev, who died last year in strange circumstances falling down a 90ft waterfall amid suspicions of murder and has taken the Russian President eight months to nominate a replacement.

According to official versions he was killed trying to “save a man” at Kitabo-Oron waterfall in September 2021 at Putorana Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Arctic Siberia.

Putin was visibly distraught at Zinichev’s funeral, calling his death an “irreplaceable personal loss”.

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Some analysts believed Putin had been grooming Zinichev as his eventual successor.

He had already served as deputy FSB director and second in command at the defence ministry.

Zinichev, who held the rank of general, had enjoyed a spectacular rise under Putin.

There were even suspicions that his death was not accidental, but few details have been published.

Professor Valery Solovey claimed: “I will say right away that it was not the death, but the murder, of the general. He did not die alone, several other people died with him.”

  • Vladimir Putin
  • Russia

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