London: Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly grooming his ex-bodyguard, a military hero, as his heir apparent, media reports said on Saturday.
The man for the hot seat is apparently the governor of Tula region, Alexei Dyumin, who had reportedly won many military laurels in the past.
The 43-year-old is a former bodyguard and Putin’s trusted aide-de-camp, the MailOnline reported.
According to the report, Dyumin had commanded the Special Operations Forces of the Russian Army which played a pivotal role in seizing Crimea from Ukraine.
Putin had awarded him the Hero of Russia honour for courage.
The report further said that he was made the deputy defence minister two months ago before making him the governor of the Tula region.
Dyumin’s sudden fast tracking to become governor of strategically important Tula is seen as a bid by Putin to give him political experience running a region ahead of another meteoric promotion, the report said.
Veteran TV and radio presenter Sergey Dorenko said that he believed Dyumin was being groomed as eventual successor to Putin.
“I place my bet on Dyumin, without doubt,” said Dorenko, a seasoned observer of the Kremlin.
He put him ahead of two other potential candidates to succeed Putin - premier Dmitry Medvedev, 50, who served as president for four years between 2008 and 2012, and Andrey Vorobyov, 45, currently governor of Moscow region.
Dyumin has served Putin at close quarters, travelling with him in his official car as aide-de-camp.