A longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who later became an outspoken critic, has died at the age of 72. Viktor Cherkesov died in St Petersburg on Tuesday night, the New York Post said in a report, quoting a Telegram post by Alexander Khinstein, chairman of the State Duma Committee on Information Policy. Mr Cherkesov was a former chief of the now-defunct State Drug Control Service (FKSN) and presidential envoy to the Northwestern Federal District, the outlet further said.
No official reason has been given for Mr Cherkesov’s death but Russian media said it followed a “serious illness”.
According to the BBC, Mr Cherkesov started his career as a KGB officer in St Petersburg. Between 1992 and 1998, he headed the FSB, the Russian secret service’s successor, for St Petersburg and Leningrad regions. It was during this period that Mr Cherkesov came close to Mr Putin, the outlet further said.
When Mr Putin was appointed the director of FSB in 1998, Mr Cherkesov moved to Moscow and served as his second-in-command.
He even participated in the election campaign of his former boss in the year 2000, the BBC report further said.
Mr Cherkesov caused a controversy by an article he wrote in the newspaper Kommersant in the year 2007, in which he talked about corruption in the security services.
Mr Putin was unhappy with the article and said there was “no need to make such information public”, as per Newsweek.
After his falling out with Mr Putin, Mr Cherkesov was demoted and subsequently fired from the government service.
Since the start of Russia’s Ukraine invasion on February 24, a number of high-profile Russians have died.
In September, chairman of Russian giant Lukoil Ravil Maganov, was found dead after falling from a sixth-floor window of a hospital in Moscow. In the same month, former head of Moscow Aviation Institute Anatoly Gerashchenko, died after falling from stairs.