Bodyguards with bulletproof briefcases and high-powered pistols, look-alike stand-ins and food tasters are just some of the ways Russian President Vladimir reportedly protects himself from would-be assassins and coup plotters.
The potential threats against Putin, 69, were thrust into the spotlight Thursday when US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called on “somebody in Russia to take this guy out” for ordering the deadly invasion of Ukraine.
But Putin, a former KGB agent who’s been in power since rising to power in 2000, is apparently obsessed with both his security and his health – protecting himself from assassins and avoiding COVID-19 at all costs, as demonstrated by the lengths to which he’s gone to avoid catching the virus.
Recent photos show him meeting with world leaders and even his own advisers at opposite ends of extremely long tables to maintain at least 20 feet of distance between them, and he donned a hazmat suit — complete with a full face respirator — before visiting a Moscow hospital treating coronavirus patients in April 2020.
Putin’s bodyguards — who call themselves his “Musketeers” — comprise a special unit within Russia’s Federal Protective Service, or FSO, which traces its roots to 1881, when Czar Alexander III surrounded himself with guards following the assassination of his father by a bomb-throwing revolutionary, according to The Economist.
Much of what’s been revealed about the elite Presidential Security Service comes from the “Beyond Russia” website, which is run by TV-Novosti, a state-funded operation that also oversees the embattled RT propaganda network.
The website says Putin’s bodyguards are hand-picked for qualities that include “operational psychology,” physical stamina and the ability to withstand cold and not sweat in heat.
They’re reportedly outfitted with special briefcases that serve as shields to protect Putin and carry Russian-made, 9 mm SR-1 Vektor pistols loaded with armor-piercing bullets.
Before Putin travels, advance teams…