Viktor Cherkesov, a former agent of the KGB and the former mentor and associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died in St. Petersburg on Tuesday at the age of 72 from an unnamed “severe illness”.

Cherkesov worked at the KGB in 1975, around the same time that Putin reportedly joined the agency. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cherkesov ended up working for its successor, Federal Security Service, as the head of the St. Petersburg branch from 1992 to 1998, according to the Moscow Times.

After Putin was appointed the director of the Federal Security Service in 1997, Cherkesov served as the agency’s deputy director, and became the presidential envoy in Russia's Northwestern Federal District and a member of the Security Council after Putin’s election into the presidency, Radio Free Europe reported.

He ended up heading the Federal Drug Control Service from 2003 to 2008, where he led a massive investigation into a furniture smuggling ring that implicated members of the Federal Security Service to a money laundering scheme in a United States bank.

The scandal, known as the Three Whales, ended in the resignation of Customs Service head Aleksandr Zherikhov, Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, and the arrests and firings of different high-ranking officials in departments and ministries such as the Interior Ministry, Customs Service, and the presidential administration office.

Cherkesov was fired from the position in 2008, with many believing that Putin had let him go after he publicly spoke about the infighting between the top-ranking members of the Federal Security Service, which Putin had publicly criticized as unnecessary.

He ended up becoming the head of the Federal Agency for Military Supplies until 2010, and became a lawmaker representing the Communist Party afterwards. Outside of his criticism regarding the 2011-12 reforms of the Interior Ministry, Cherkesov has been in lockstep with Putin since being elected to the position.

Cherkesov is survived by his wife, Natalia Cherkesova. The Kremlin and Putin has yet to make a statement regarding his death.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Visits Red Square On National Unity Day
Russian President Vladimir Putin carries a bouquet of red roses during the ceremony at Red Square on November 4, 2022, in Moscow, Russia. President Putin laid flowers to the Monument of Minin and Pozharsky at Red Square marking the National Unity Day. Contributor/Getty Images.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.