JRL NEWSWATCH: “The new musketeers; The improbable careers of Vladimir Putin’s bodyguards; Proximity is power” – The Economist

Stylized Artist's Depiction of Shadowy Figures in Dark Coats and Dark Hats, One Carrying a Briefcase

“… Putin has become closer than most to the men of Russia’s Federal Protective Service (fso). Since 2016, four fso officers from his personal guard have been appointed regional governors …. A fifth became head of the newly formed National Guard. … [Alexey] Dyumin was elevated in 2013 to a post in the defence ministry … command[ing] special forces … reportedly overs[eeing] the [2014] Crimea [annexation] …. In 2016 he became governor of the [arms-industry-heavy] Tula region … south of Moscow. … [As part of] a broader shift in … Kremlin[] priorities[] from protecting … Putin himself to ensuring the longevity of the system …. Putin has sought fresh cadres to replace ageing loyalists. … One group … has [been] … the ‘technocrats’ – bespectacled experts … elevated to run regions and ministries. Yet … [i]n the shadowy world of … Russian security services …. [t]hough lacking the investigative firepower of the Federal Security Service (fsb) or … cloak-and-dagger cachet of … foreign intelligence … the fso possesses an invaluable resource in Russia’s Byzantine system: dostup k telu, or closeness to the body. As Konstantin Gaaze, an analyst, puts it: ‘Proximity is power.’ …”

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