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Russian President Vladimir Putin heads to his meeting with Armenian President Robert Kocharian in Yerevan, 24 May 2001. Putin arrived in the Armenian capital on Thursday for discussions of collective and regional security issues with the leaders of Armenia, Belarus and three Central Asian states. (POOL)  AFP PHOTO AP POOL/MISHA JAPARIDZE (Photo by MISHA JAPARIDZE / AP POOL / AFP) (Photo by MISHA JAPARIDZE/AP POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
History - Science
Vladimir Putin's bodyguards are part of the Federal Protective Service, and the special unit refers to themselves as the Musketeers. The unit can be traced back to the 19th century when they were tasked with protecting Czar Alexander III (above), who considered this a necessary step, as his father, Russian emperor Alexander II, had been assassinated.
Potential bodyguards must be between about 5’9” and 6’3” tall, between 165 and 200 pounds, and under 35 years in age. They also must possess qualities like stamina, foreign language skills, and basic familiarity with politics and politicians.
Putin's security detail scouts locations ahead of time and runs through possible worst-case scenarios, from assassination attempts to natural disasters. Guards carry 9mm Gurza pistols (which can fire 40 rounds per minute and penetrate armors), briefcases that are actually bullet-proof shields, and umbrellas made of Kevlar.
There are typically four rings of guards around Putin, with the closest ones sporting dark suits, sunglasses, and earpieces, while those stationed farther away blend in with crowds, and there are usually snipers in the area as well. Putin usually travels in a heavily armed motorcade consisting of armored vehicles, machine guns, and anti-aircraft missiles.
Gilles Bragard, who founded ​​Club des Chefs des Chefs, an organization that cooks for heads of state, noted that anything Putin ingests is ensured to be poison-free, saying, "Tasters still exist but only in the Kremlin, where a doctor checks every dish with the chef." It has also been alleged that Putin has used body doubles over the years, though he has denied such claims.