MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed his former bodyguard Alexei Dyumin, as secretary of the advisory State Council. The step which was taken on Wednesday, fuelled speculation about Dyumin’s presidential potential.

Putin was re-elected for another six-year term in office, in March of this calendar year. He made the 51-year-old Dyumin an aide tasked with ‘overseeing the defence industry’ (in May). This brought the former bodyguard to Moscow and ‘closer’ to the centre of power.

A decree signed by Putin appointing Dyumin to the State Council was published on the Kremlin’s website, on Wednesday. However, it gave no further details on his new role.

“Russia’s elite is abuzz with the appointment of Dyumin as secretary of the State Council” a former Kremlin adviser and supporter of President Putin, Sergei Markov, stated on Telegram.

“This is seen as confirmation that Dyumin is the future president of Russia, Putin’s choice” Markov said, adding that this was something that had been ‘rumoured for quite some time’. There is no public debate or reliable information regarding who might eventually succeed Putin.

Putin is now 71-years-old and is ‘expected’ to rule ‘for years’. His appointments are ‘scrutinised’ to gauge whether he is lining up a potential candidate ‘to take over from him’ in the future.

Being publicly identified as a potential successor, carries risks attached to ‘being seen as a challenger’. Dyumin’s name (among others), has long been the subject of speculation amongst members of Russia’s political elite.

When asked about Dyumin’s appointment, the Kremlin said it was part of a rotation. He is taking over the role from the 72-year-old Igor Levitin and says he is looking into how the State Council will function. Putin is the chair of the council and there has long been speculation that it could take on more importance.

Under changes championed by Putin in 2020, the role of the State Council (grouping the heads of Russia’s regions), was ‘enshrined in the constitution’, for the very first time. Political analysts perceived this step to be Putin paving the way for it, to eventually become a ‘more powerful force’.

Dyumin was born in the year 1972, in ‘Kursk’ (western Russia) and is married with one son. Despite various appearances on state television over the years, Dyumin is not a household name among Russians who live outside the region where he used to govern. However, he is ‘well known’ in political circles, the military and the intelligence services.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2024

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