Viktor Zolotov

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Viktor Zolotov
Viktor Zolotov (2020-05-06).jpg
Director of the National Guard of Russia
Assumed office
5 April 2016
Preceded byPosition established
Personal details
Viktor Vasilyevich Zolotov

(1954-01-24) 24 January 1954 (age 69)
Sasovo, Ryazan Oblast, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Military service
Allegiance Soviet Union (1975–1991)
 Russia (1991–present)
Branch/serviceKGB Border Guard
Federal Protective Service
Internal Troops of Russia[1]
National Guard of Russia
Years of service1975–present
RankRussia-Army-OF-9-2013.svg General of the Army

Viktor Vasilyevich Zolotov (Russian: Ви́ктор Васи́льевич Зо́лотов; born 27 January 1954) is the current Director of the National Guard of Russia (Rosgvardiya) and a member of the Security Council of Russia.

Zolotov is a former bodyguard to former President Boris Yeltsin, former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, and current Russian leader Vladimir Putin.[2] While working for Sobchak, Zolotov became acquainted with Putin, as well as figures in the St. Petersburg criminal underworld.[3] A member of Putin's siloviki inner circle, Zolotov's rise to power and wealth happened after he became a close Putin confidante.[2][4][3] The Zolotov family has obtained valuable land plots through dubious means.[3]


Viktor Zolotov, Vladimir Putin and Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in Qatar, 12 February 2007

Zolotov was born in 1954 in Sasovo in Ryazan Oblast into a working-class family and worked as a steelworker.[5] Zolotov started his career in 1975 with the KGB Border Troops.[6]

Security services career[edit]

In 1991, Zolotov was seen as a bodyguard next to President of the Russian SFSR Boris Yeltsin during Yeltin's "Tank Speech" during the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt.[6] After the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, he became part of the newly-created Federal Protective Service, responsible for the protection of high-ranking Russian officials.[1] In the 1990s, he was hired as a bodyguard of the Mayor of Saint Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. At this job, he met Putin, who was a Vice Mayor at this time. Zolotov became a sparring partner of the future President of Russia in boxing and judo, and "whenever Putin appeared in public, Zolotov could be spotted walking directly behind him".[5]

Zolotov also served in Roman Tsepov's private guard service Baltik-Eskort, prior to the poisoning of Tsepov by an unknown radioactive substance. The agency was created in 1992, based on the advice from Zolotov, who allegedly oversaw this agency later as a member of the active reserve, according to Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky.[7] The firm provided protection to high ranking Saint Petersburg officials, including the city mayor Sobchak and his family, as well as vice-mayor Putin. It also served as the central mechanism for the collection of tribute and chorniy nal or "black cash" (Russian: "черный нал") for Putin's purposes.[8][9]

A high-ranking SVR defector Sergei Tretyakov asserted that Zolotov and Putin-appointed director of the Federal Protection Service (FSO) General Murov had openly discussed how to kill the former chief of Yeltsin's administration Alexander Voloshin.[10] They also made "a list of politicians and other influential Muscovites whom they would need to assassinate to give Putin unchecked power". However since the list was very long, Zolotov allegedly announced, "There are too many. It's too many to kill - even for us." This made SVR officers who knew about the story "uneasy", since FSO includes twenty thousand troops and controls the "black box" that can be used in the event of global nuclear war[5][11]

From 2000 to 2013, he was the Chief of the Security of Putin, while the latter was Prime Minister of Russia and then President of Russia. Zolotov commanded security officers that are known in Russia as "Men in Black" because they wore black sunglasses and dressed in all-black suits. They use a variety of weapons including portable rocket launchers.[5]

Zolotov is a friend of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov.[3]

On 12 May 2014, Zolotov was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia and commander of the Internal Troops of Russia.[1] On 5 April 2016, he was appointed commander-in-chief of the National Guard of Russia, which superseded the old Internal Troops of Russia, and relieved of his previous duties—and by a separate Presidential Decree was named a member of the Security Council of Russia.[12]

In August 2018, Zolotov became a target of an investigation of the Anti-Corruption Foundation. Alexei Navalny alleged a theft of at least $29m in procurement contracts for the National Guard of Russia. Soon, Navalny was imprisoned, formally for staging protests in January 2018, and Viktor Zolotov published a video message on 11 September, where he called Navalny into a duel and promised to make "good, juicy mincemeat" of him.[13][14]

During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Moscow Times considered Zolotov to have disappeared from public view since around 13 March 2022, together with other senior siloviki (key Russian security officials), including Sergey Shoigu, Igor Kostyukov and Valery Gerasimov.[15]


In April 2018, the United States imposed sanctions on him and 23 other Russian nationals for their involvement in Ukrainian affairs.[16][17]

On 2 March 2021, the Council of the European Union imposed a set of restrictive measures against Zolotov saying he was "responsible for serious human rights violations in Russia, including arbitrary arrests and detentions and systematic and widespread violations of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, in particular by violently repressing protests and demonstrations." These relate to the quelling of pro-Navalny protests in early 2021.[18][19]

In December 2022 the EU sanctioned Viktor Zolotov in relation to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.[20]

Personal life and wealth[edit]

Despite a career in government, Zolotov and his family own approximately $9.8 million worth of real estate in Russia,[21] as well as plots of land that may be worth $22.7 million.[22] According to the OCCRP, Putin gave Zolotov state properties that had been bequethed by the state to workers and pensioners after the collapse of the Soviet Union.[22] Workers say they were swindled out of the properties given to Zolotov.[22]

His daughter Zhanna Zolotova owns a 500-square-meter (5,380-square-foot) apartment in Moscow, valued at roughly $5 million.[21] She is married to Yuri Chechikhin, a film and television producer.

His son Roman owns an estate valued at $10 million.[22]


  1. ^ a b c[bare URL]
  2. ^ a b "Putin's Top Bodyguard Finds His Way in St. Petersburg". Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d Badanin, Andrei Zakharov, Roman. "'I Already Knew Who Was Behind Her': A Mysterious Woman, a Top Russian Official, and Contracts Worth Millions". OCCRP. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  4. ^ "Putin's Bodyguards Rewarded with Land and Power". Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  5. ^ a b c d Pete Earley. Comrade J.: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America after the End of the Cold War, Putnam Adult (24 January 2008), ISBN 0-399-15439-6, pp. 298–301.
  6. ^ a b "Люди с танка. Как сложилась судьба тех, кто был с Ельциным у Белого дома в 1991 году". Настоящее Время (in Russian). Retrieved 16 March 2022.
  7. ^ Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky The Age of Assassins. The Rise and Rise of Vladimir Putin, Gibson Square Books, London, 2008, ISBN 1-906142-07-6, pp. 260–262.
  8. ^ Никитинский, Леонид (Nikitinsky, Leonid) (27 March 2005). Связной с прошлым [Contact with the past]. Novaya Gazeta (in Russian). Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  9. ^ Dawisha 2014, p. 132
  10. ^ "One idea was to kill him and blame Chechen separatists. Another was to make his execution appear to be a hit by the Russian Mafia" (Comrade J., page 299)
  11. ^ Boris Volodarsky, The KGB's Poison Factory: From Lenin to Litvinenko, p.248
  12. ^ "Former chief of Putin's security service appointed Russian National Guard chief — Kremlin". TASS. Russia. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  13. ^ "The director of Russia's National Guard challenges Alexey Navalny to a fist fight". Meduza. 11 September 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Russian opposition leader injured following detention". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Not only Shoigu disappeared from public view, but other key security officials did too – Zolotov, Bortnikov and Kostyukov" [Из публичного пространства пропал не только Шойгу, но и другие ключевые силовики – Золотов, Бортников и Костюков]. The Moscow Times (in Russian). 25 March 2022. Archived from the original on 26 February 2022. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  16. ^ "Ukraine-/Russia-related Designations and Identification Update". United States Department of the Treasury. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  17. ^ "США ввели санкции против семи российских олигархов и 17 чиновников из "кремлевского списка"" [The US imposed sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs and 17 officials from the "Kremlin list"]. Meduza (in Russian). 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  18. ^ "EU imposes sanctions on four Russians over Navalny jailing". Reuters. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  19. ^ "EUR-Lex - 02020R1998-20210302 - EN - EUR-Lex". Retrieved 17 December 2021.
  20. ^ "COUNCIL DECISION (CFSP) 2022/2477 of 16 December 2022". Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  21. ^ a b "Russia's anti-corruption crusaders say the new National Guard chief owns almost 10 million dollars in real estate". Meduza. Retrieved 12 March 2022.
  22. ^ a b c d "Three Bodyguards and Their Riches". Retrieved 12 March 2022.


External links[edit]

Preceded by Chief of the Presidential Security Service (Russia)
2000 – 2013
Succeeded by
Oleg Klementiyev
Preceded by
Nikolay Rogozhkin
Commanderof the Internal Troops of Russia
2013 – 2016
Succeeded by
Position abolished
New creation Director of the National Guard of Russia
5 April 2016 – present