Viktor Cherkesov Obituary, Death – Former head of the Federal Drug Control Service (FKSN) and a longtime friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Viktor Cherkesov, has away at the age of 72. On November 9, Aleksandr Khinshtein, a lawmaker, posted on Telegram that Cherkesov had passed away. The cause of death was not mentioned by him. Cherkesov was a KGB officer in Putin’s native St. Petersburg during the Soviet era and later served as the director of the city’s Federal Security Service (FSB). Cherkesov worked in Putin’s presidential campaign organization in 2000 after becoming the FSB’s deputy director in 1998 after Putin was appointed to that position.

Cherkesov was chosen by Putin to serve as his representative in Russia’s Northwestern Federal District after he won the presidential election. Cherkesov was then a Security Council member as well. Cherkesov was appointed director of the FKSN in 2003. Putin directed the Cherkesov-led agency to look into the “Three Whales” corruption scandal, which involved high-ranking FSB officials and was thought to be connected to money laundering through a bank in the United States, in 2006. The case involved major furniture smuggling. Aleksandr Zherikhov, the head of the Customs Service, and Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov both resigned in response to the investigation, which also resulted in the dismissal and detention of several top figures from the FSB, Interior Ministry, Customs Service, presidential administration, and other institutions.

Putin publicly reprimanded Cherkesov for making some investigation-related material public, claiming there was “no need to make such information public,” which revealed what appeared to be a confrontation between senior FSB personnel. Cherkesov was demoted from his position as director of the FKSN in 2008 and appointed Director of the Federal Agency for Military Supplies. Cherkesov was let go from his position in 2010 and later was elected as a politician for the Communist Party. Despite his criticism of the Interior Ministry’s 2011–12 changes, he largely backed Putin’s administration and its policies.