As might be expected, the Russian president’s personal security unit is the best trained in the country. Russia Beyond gathers below all the (known) information about the operation of Putin’s escort.
Months before Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves his homes to appear in public anywhere, his security team is already in motion. First, the unit analyzes all possible threats: from criminal activity, social unrest and image perception to even the possibility of natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods in the region during the potential visit.
About a month before the president’s visit, staff members come to the site to coordinate their security agenda with regional authorities and verify the president’s accommodations. The rooms undergo all necessary repairs so that during the Russian president’s stay, no technicians or maintenance personnel have to access the room.
The security team’s engineers and IT technicians install jammers to block any radio signals in the president’s hosting area. The surveillance team’s equipment has the ability to track all smartphones and other devices in the vicinity to track any suspicious activity. Under Russian law, presidential security has the right to install and use eavesdropping hardware and software, carry out body searches, gain access to any building and organization, or seize any vehicle – if there is a threat to the security of the head of state. However, the seizure of civilian vehicles is only permitted “in extreme conditions” and there are no official records of even a single such occurrence. Only after careful preparations have been carried out does the president arrive and security begins its work.
Who does the Federal Protective Service (FSB) serve
The agency responsible for the Russian president’s security is called the Federal Protective Service (FSB, for its acronym in Russian). The records of its staff and funding are partially confidential, but official sources say the service has more than 50,000 employees in total. Why so many?
In addition to the president, the FSB ensures the safety of several people:
Prime Minister (currently Mikhail Michustin)
Spokespersons for the State Duma and the Federation Council;
Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence,
Director of the Federal Security Service;
President of the Security Council;
Head of the Presidential Administration and his deputy;
President of the Central Election Commission;
Other State figures, by special order of the President.
Who are Putin’s bodyguards
Within the Federal Security Service, a special unit ensures the personal safety of the president. Amazingly, the requirements for this position do not include actual combat experience. “The president’s security is unlikely to have to organize ambushes on mountain trails or parachute jumps,” explains a former employee of the president’s security unit. “Combat experience is useful, but it often doesn’t apply to our work. During the war, you attack. And a bodyguard should only protect a dignitary from someone supposedly invisible.”
That’s why ex-police officers aren’t suited for this role – they’re trained to arrest, and in the case of the president’s bodyguards, their safety is the priority, not necessarily deterring the assailant. The guard must have “operational psychology”, which means being able to anticipate and prevent threats and do so without being noticed by others, which is also important. Other requirements are: candidates must be under 35 years old, between 175 and 190 cm tall, and weigh between 75 and 90 kilos.
The president’s personal guards must also have knowledge of foreign languages and political knowledge – to understand who approaches the president and how those people should be treated.
The president’s guards also have high stamina. They are trained to withstand considerable cold by wearing only light coats (thicker ones can hinder their movements) and not sweating in the heat. According to reports, they use drugs that affect physiological processes. By the way, bodyguards can smoke cigarettes – it helps to calm stress faster, but not during training or work. Bodyguards’ work is exhausting, so they’re laid off after they turn 35.
How Putin’s bodyguards work and what equipment they use
During “action” (the president’s time in public), the guards organize themselves into four circles. The closest circle is made up of his personal bodyguards: frightening-looking guys in suits, sunglasses, headsets and a briefcase. The menacing look has an obvious reason – for bullies, this is the first sign that the dignitary is properly protected.
Another detail of the bodyguards is their hands – they are always in front of the body, the left hand is often raised halfway to the chest. This is a mandatory requirement – the guard must always be in an alert position. After all, the immediate task of the ‘first circle’, in case of danger, is to protect the president with their bodies.
The briefcases these guards carry are shields that can be used to protect the president from bullets. Officers are always armed with a 9mm Gurza pistol that can fire up to 40 bullets per minute, penetrating bulletproof vests at a distance of up to 50 meters. However, if a shooting occurs, it means that the security team has failed – all attacks must be avoided in advance. Another piece of equipment designed to protect the delegation are the Kevlar-framed umbrellas carried by the guards – they are super-resistant and can protect against projectiles.
However, it is not the ‘first circle’ guards who are the most important, but the second circle guards – unlike the first, they are completely unnoticed in the crowd, dressed formally and behave with discretion, on the lookout for potential attackers. The ‘third circle’ surrounds the perimeter of the crowd, preventing suspicious people from being in the president’s vicinity. The fourth is made up of snipers positioned on the roofs of surrounding buildings; so it’s dangerous to run, scream or make sudden movements near the president – the individual will have a red dot on his head within seconds.
In addition, during the appearance of the head of state in public spaces, there may be a need to install additional protective equipment.
However, Vladimir Putin’s main security asset is the president himself. With experience in both Soviet and Russian intelligence, Putin is “a malleable dignitary,” according to former security officials of the president. He knows his security team is fully aware of what he is doing and always meets his demands.
Source: with agencies