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Putin promotes bodyguard to Emergencies Minister after predecessor fell to death from 90ft waterfall

Vladimir Putin has promoted his former personal bodyguard to the Kremlin’s new Emergencies Minister, months after his predecessor mysteriously fell to his death from a waterfall.

Major General Alexander Kurenkov, 49, nominated today by Putin, is the sixth bodyguard of the Russian president to be appointed to a high government post.

The last man to hold the post was Yevgeny Zinichev, also a former Putin guard, who died falling down a 90-foot waterfall amid suspicions of murder.

Vladimir Putin has promoted his former personal bodyguard Alexander Kurenkov to be the Kremlin's new Emergencies Minister (pictured together)

Vladimir Putin has promoted his former personal bodyguard Alexander Kurenkov to be the Kremlin’s new Emergencies Minister (pictured together)

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The last man to hold the post was Yevgeny Zinichev, also a former Putin guard, who died falling down a 90-foot waterfall amid suspicions of murder (pictured together in the Kremlin in April 2020)

Nicknamed ‘the man with no face’, little is known about Kurenkov’s past and background, with claims that he had worked in the FSB counter-intelligence agency and in the FSO, responsible for protecting senior officials.

The footage shows former school teacher Kurenkov as a close bodyguard to Putin, now 69, on several visits.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: ‘Putin knows him well personally.

“And the election means that, according to the head of state, Kurenkov’s personal, service and professional qualities will allow him to perform this role.”

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

Nicknamed 'the man without a face', little is known about Kurenkov's past and background (pictured together)

Nicknamed ‘the man without a face’, little is known about Kurenkov’s past and background (pictured together)

The footage shows former school teacher Kurenkov as a close bodyguard to Putin, now 69, on several visits (circled right)

The footage shows former school teacher Kurenkov as a close bodyguard to Putin, now 69, on several visits (circled right)

Official records say Zinichev, who was “preparing himself for tsarism as a possible successor” to Putin, died trying to “save a man” at the Kitabo-Oron waterfall in September at the UNESCO World Heritage site in Siberia.

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

Some analysts believed that Putin had been grooming Zinichev, like himself, once a KGB agent, as his eventual successor.

He had previously served as deputy director of the FSB and second-in-command at the Ministry of Defense.

Zinichev, who held the rank of general, had enjoyed a spectacular rise under Putin and had been offered a powerful new role on the Kremlin security council when he was killed in the mysterious Arctic incident.

Professor Valery Solovey – linked to the Telegram channel General SVR – stated: ‘I will say immediately that it was not the death, but the murder of the general.

Putin was visibly distraught at Zinichev's funeral, calling his death a

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

Some analysts believed that Putin had been grooming Zinichev, like himself, once a KGB agent, as his eventual successor.

Some analysts believed that Putin had been grooming Zinichev, like himself, once a KGB agent, as his eventual successor.

‘He didn’t die alone, several other people died with him.’

The man he allegedly tried to save, 63-year-old documentary filmmaker and cameraman Alexander Melnik, was also killed.

Putin awarded him the posthumous honor of Hero of Russia.

His replacement, Kurenkov, had “worked as Putin’s top aide”, a source told RBC.

Later he was deputy director of the Russian national guard, which answers directly to Putin.

In recent years he was promoted to the rank of Major General.

The Russian parliament is expected to approve the appointment of the former bodyguard.

Dmitry Mironov, 53, is now a Putin aide after a stint as governor of the Yaroslavl region.

Dmitry Mironov, 53, is now a Putin aide after a stint as governor of the Yaroslavl region.

The Emergencies Minister is a high-profile job in Russia, fighting floods, wildfires and storms, but is also seen as a key security portfolio.

It was in this role that Sergei Shoigu, now defense minister, became famous.

It is not clear whether Putin sees Kurenkov as a possible successor.

A former bodyguard, Alexey Dyumin, 49, is the governor of the Tula region.

Another, Dmitry Mironov, 53, is now a Putin aide after a stint as governor of the Yaroslavl region.

Another Sergei Morozov, 49, was appointed governor of the Astrakhan region before returning to the secret services as a major general.

The highest flying of all former bodyguards is Uber loyalist General Viktor Zolotov, 68, who heads the Russian national guard.

He had also been a guard for Russia’s first post-communist president, Boris Yeltsin.

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