During the Prigozhin rebellion, Russian propagandists mentioned Alexey Dyumin. In the past, he saved Victor Yanukovych, was Putinʼs adjutant, and now he can take Sergei Shoiguʼs place. Who is he — a short profile

Dmytro Rayevskyi
Kateryna Kobernyk
During the Prigozhin rebellion, Russian propagandists mentioned Alexey Dyumin. In the past, he saved Victor Yanukovych, was Putinʼs adjutant, and now he can take Sergei Shoiguʼs place. Who is he — a short profile

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tula Oblast Governor Oleksiy Dyumin, September 8, 2016.

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Russian propagandists began to actively promote and praise the governor of the Tula region, Alexey Dyumin, who had hardly been written about before. It all started with the mention that Dyumin took part in the negotiations between the Kremlin and Wagnerʼs PMC during Yevgeny Prigozhinʼs attempt to commit a mutiny on June 23-24. After that, propagandists praised Dyumin for creating the "Tula" battalion for the war against Ukraine and for successful negotiations with Prigozhin. Some directly wrote that Dyumin will soon be appointed Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation instead of Sergei Shoigu. Dyumin is not a very well-known person in Ukraine. But he has been in the Russian government for a long time: he guarded the highest officials, worked in the Ministry of Defense, has the rank of colonel general, was involved in the annexation of Crimea and the deportation of Viktor Yanukovych to Russia. He was repeatedly called a possible successor to Putin, for example, before the 2018 elections. But Dyumin spent the last seven years in the position of the governor of the Tula region, invisible to most. Where does Alexey Dyumin come from, what did the Russian mass media write about him and why was he mentioned during the Prigozhin rebellion — in a short profile by Babel.

Alexey Dyumin started his career in 1995 in the Federal Security Service (FSO), immediately in the presidential communications department. A twenty-three-year-old graduate of the Voronezh Higher Military Aviation Engineering School got a high position in Moscow under the patronage of his father, General Gennady Dyumin. He was one of the advisers and a personal friend of the then Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Pavel Grachov. After Putin came to power, Gennady Dyumin continued his successful career — engaged in procurement for military hospitals, and since 2013 he has been working in the leadership of the Main Military Medical Directorate.

Alexey Dyumin has a younger brother, Artem, a businessman who has never served in the military. Artem Dyumin was engaged in procurement for the Ministry of Defense together with his father, then in construction in Moscow and Moscow suburbs. From 2014 to 2019, he was the general director of one of the largest stadiums in Russia — SC "Olimpiyskiy". His main business partner is Oleg Golublev, the son of the former head of Putinʼs office. Another partner of Dyumin and Golublev was Dmytro Shumkov, a lawyer, investor and owner of SC "Olimpiyskiy", who was found hanged by his own tie in 2015.

Meanwhile, Alexey Dyumin made a career in the FSO. On August 9, 1999, the same day that Boris Yeltsin announced Putin as his successor, Dyumin moved from the communications department to the Presidential Security Service, that is, to the unit that deals with the physical protection of the head of state.

In an interview in 2016, Dyumin called the current head of Russian Guard (Rosgvardia) Viktor Zolotov his mentor and teacher. Most likely, they started working together in August 1999. Zolotov resigned from the FSO back in 1996 and returned already at the request of Putin, when he became Yeltsinʼs successor.

From 2000 to 2013, Zolotov and Dyumin worked together — the former was the head of the Presidential Security Service, and the latter was initially one of the officers, and since 2012 — Zolotovʼs deputy. Sources in the Presidential Administration then told journalists that sometime after 2010, Zolotov gradually moved away from direct management of the Service, and Dyumin was actually responsible for Putinʼs security.

Alexei Dyumin and head of the Russian Guard (Rosgvardia) Viktor Zolotov, December 5, 2022.

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Dyumin was called not just one of Putinʼs bodyguards, but also his personal aide-de-camp — a person who is always nearby, carries out any errands, lives and sleeps in the same residences as the president. It is difficult to say how true this is. There is no official confirmation of this information, and Dumin himself always actively denied it and said that he was only one of the security officers, nothing more.

In 2014, large-scale personnel changes began in the FSO. Long-time director Yevgeny Murov became seriously ill and went for treatment. Officially, he was in office for another two years, but members of his team gradually began to be transferred to other departments. For example, at the same time Viktor Zolotov headed the Russian Guard.

It was the first time when journalists and analysts noticed Dyumin and began to predict him a high management position — Murovʼs place. But it didnʼt happen. In 2014, Dyumin was appointed deputy head of the Main Intelligence Directorate and commander of the Special Operations Forces (SSO) of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

The next two years are the most mysterious in Dyuminʼs biography. In the propaganda documentary “Crimea. Path to the Motherland” Putin personally says that the leading role in the annexation of Crimea was played by servicemen of the SSO. He also says that this department was involved in the evacuation of Viktor Yanukovych from Ukraine. Dyuminʼs last name isnʼt mentioned in the film, but he was the one who led the SSO at that time. The “Kommersant” newspaper, referring to its sources in the Ministry of Defense, wrote that it was Dyumin who planned this operation.

Dyumin usually denies everything: “I donʼt understand at all where all this comes from. Where do such legends come from? Who creates these myths? I never saw this Mr. [Yanukovych] after the beginning of the well-known events in Ukraine. And what youʼre asking me about, I canʼt even comment on, because itʼs not true at all. And in general, I will not tell anything about the activities of the unit in which I served. Because I canʼt.”

At the same time, in 2014, Dyumin received the highest state award “Hero of Russia”. For what exactly, it is unknown, because the text of the order was never published. But it is not difficult to guess. Volodymyr Mertsalov, a Russian collaborator and one of the leaders of the "self-defense of Crimea", once told journalists: "I already miss Lyokha [Dyumin]. I really want to see him, hug him, ask how he is doing now, how he sees the further development of Crimea. We became friends with him during the "Crimean Spring". He managed several special operations, including the evacuation of Yanukovych. Lyosha is smart, he is a real officer, a sincere person."

Dyumin did not stay long at SSO and was promoted in December 2015. He was appointed Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces, and then Deputy Minister of Defense. And received the rank of lieutenant general. But he never became “theirs” for the military.

“Dyumin is a very good coordinator between the army, the FSB, the GRU and the Ministry of Internal Affairs during acute situations. And he promptly reported everything upstairs,” was written about him at the time. According to journalists, Dyumin was rightly considered “Putinʼs eyes and ears” in the Ministry of Defense.

Alexei Dyumin and Putin during a visit to the house-museum of the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy "Yasna Polyana" in the Tula region, September 8, 2016.

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He worked at the Ministry of Defense for a little over a month, including the New Year holidays. Already on February 2, 2016, he was unexpectedly appointed to perform the duties of the governor of the Tula region. And in September, he became a full-fledged governor after the elections.

Together with Dyumin, several other former bodyguards of Putin received the positions of governors. Dmitriy Mironov was sent to the Yaroslavl region, Yevgeniy Zinichev to the Kaliningrad region. All three once worked simultaneously in the Presidential Security Service in Zolotovʼs team, and all left there in 2013-2014. At the same time, they began to say that this is how Putin prepares his successor — he appoints people who are personally loyal to him to purely administrative positions to see how they will cope.

Dyuminʼs chances in this casting were rated the highest. Some journalists and analysts expected his candidacy to appear in the 2018 presidential election. But until 2021, Dumin worked as a governor. When his term in office ended, he was met by Putin, who usually does not receive governors in person. Immediately after that, there were rumors that Dyumin was about to be taken to Moscow, but instead he was re-elected governor and remained in Tula.

The leader of the terrorist quasi-state organization “Donetsk Peopleʼs Republic” Denys Pushylin (right) listens to the governor of the Tula region Alexey Dyumin (left) during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, June 16, 2022.

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In January 2023, Dyumin was predicted to soon become the Minister of Industry and Trade. The logic was simple. The Tula region is small, but there are many military-industrial facilities, for example, the Kalashnikov concern. Even the official propaganda publications emphasized that Dyumin was appointed to Tula as an officer — not only to repair roads, but also to monitor regional defense plants. Rumors appeared that, based on the results of the first year of the war in Ukraine, Putin is dissatisfied with the work of the military-industrial complex and Minister Denis Manturov, and will soon appoint the faithful Dyumin to the government.

“The new appointment of the head [we are talking about Dyumin] has been prepared for a long time, and it was said that he will either be in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, or the Ministry of Supply will be created under him, which will deal with the needs of the front and rear,” said anonymous sources of “Verstka” media in January. But half a year has passed, and Dumin is still the governor.

In May 2023, Yevgeny Prigozhin suddenly mentioned Dyumin in an interview with propagandist Konstantin Dolgov. Then he compared him with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and reminded that the credit for the annexation of Crimea belongs to Dyumin and the SSO, not to the Ministry of Defense. Dyumin and Prigozhin have known each other well since the 2000s, they have friendly relations.

In general, Dyumin has many important connections, which he cements through sports. Once upon a time, his father Gennady Dyumin and Defense Minister Pavel Grachov were fond of tennis because Boris Yeltsin loved it. Dyumin Jr., like Vladimir Putin, is a hockey fan. In 2011, they jointly founded the Night Hockey League, an amateur sports organization in which retired athletes, politicians, Putin himself and his friends play for fun. Dyumin is the chairman of the leagueʼs board of trustees, and he himself sometimes goes out on the ice to play, for example, with Roman Rotenberg, the son of businessman Boris Rotenberg, one of Putinʼs closest allies. Dyumin is also a member of the board of directors of the professional hockey club SKA, which is owned by oligarch Gennady Timchenko.

It is still unknown whether Dumin will head the Ministry of Defense. Over the past ten years, he was often called a contender for high posts, and never once did these predictions come true. On June 26, 2023, in his speech following the Prigozhin rebellion, Putin did not mention any possible personnel changes in the government. However, this does not mean anything.

Alexei Dyumin and Putin during a hockey match at the Shayba Arena in Sochi on February 15, 2019.

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Translated from Ukrainian by Anton Semyzhenko.

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