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Roman Igorevich Tsepov (Russian: Роман Игоревич Цепов, (July 22, 1962, Kolpino, Leningrad Oblast, USSR – September 24, 2004, Saint-Petersburg) was a Saint Petersburg businessman and confidant to Vladimir Putin during Putin's work at the Saint Petersburg City Administration. Born Belinson, Tsepov changed his surname upon marriage to Tsepova. Tsepov was suspected of criminal and corruption activity.


Upon graduation from the Supreme Political school of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR, Tsepov served in the Internal Troops as a political commissar. In 1990, he retired from the Ministry of Internal Affairs at the rank of captain.


In 1992, Tsepov founded the security firm "Baltik-Eskort". The idea to create this agency belonged to the future Putin's bodyguard Viktor Zolotov who later oversaw this agency as a member of the active reserve.[1] The firm provided protection to high ranking Saint Petersburg officials, including the city mayor Anatoly Sobchak and his family, as well as the vice-mayor Vladimir Putin. In this role, Tsepov also acted as an "intermediary between Putin and business". At the same time, "Baltik-Eskort" rendered security services to a number of criminal leaders, in particular Aleksandr Malyshev, the leader of "Malyshev's gang" and his family and several figures of the Tambov Gang.[2]

Criminal activityEdit

In 1994, Tsepov was arrested on charges of illegal storage of weapons and drugs. It is rumored that the real reason for arrest was gathering of "protection" money to secure gambling licenses from city office of Vladimir Putin.[3][4][5][6] Starting in 1993, there were five unsuccessful attempts on Roman Tsepov's life. His name appears in several criminal investigations, the last one being in March 1998 on charges of extortion of 70 thousand dollars.[7][8] Tsepov went into hiding and fled to Czech Republic.[4][5][6]

Prominent businessmenEdit

Upon Vladimir Putin's coming to power, Tsepov became one of the most influential figures in the financial and political life of Saint Petersburg. He took part in the first presidential inaugural ceremony of Vladimir Putin. Tsepov's power and influence were attributed to his close association with then Minister of Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev, the chief of Presidential Security Service Viktor Zolotov (Zolotov attended Tsepov's funeral[8][9][10]) and deputy head of presidential administration Igor Sechin.He was also affiliated with Saint Petersburg branches of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs and FSB[4][6][11][12][13][14] Journalists named Roman Tsepov "a security oligarch".[15][16][17] Regarding all this real or rumored activity, Tsepov stated: "For some reason all the time Tsepov appeared to be the most convenient figure for rumors. Elections - Tsepov. Criminal investigations, tranches, credits, fuel business, security, a casino - Tsepov. Personnel rearrangements - me too. The grey cardinal necessarily should exist at a king's court".[18] In the summer of 2004, Tsepov was rumored to attempt to mediate between the government and YUKOS.[19]

Death by poisoningEdit

On 11 September 2004, Tsepov visited colleagues at a local FSB office where he had a cup of tea. On the same day, he felt unwell after which a very serious disease developed with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and sudden drop of white blood cells.[20] Treated in Hospital 31 in Saint Petersburg, he died on 24 September. A postmortem investigation found a poisoning by an unspecified radioactive material. He had symptoms similar to Aleksander Litvinenko.[9][10][21]


After playing a small part in Vladimir Bortko's mini-series Banditskiy Peterburg: Advokat (2000) Tsepov co-produced the Vladimir Bortko's mini-series My Honor (2004). The series was awarded a TEFI, the highest television award in Russia, as best film.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Yuri Felshtinsky and Vladimir Pribylovsky The Age of Assassins. The Rise and Rise of Vladimir Putin, Gibson Square Books, London, 2008, ISBN 1-906142-07-6, pages 260-262.
  2. ^ Gurin, Charles (2004-09-27). "Roman Tsepov, R.I.P." Eurasia Daily Monitor. 1 (93).
  3. ^ Выжутович, Валерий (2004-10-01). "...И близкие покойного (Смерть Романа Цепова)". Московские Новости №37 (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2006-08-28. Retrieved 2006-12-23.
  4. ^ a b c "Справка в отношении Путина В.В." Stringer (in Russian). 2000-11-06.
  5. ^ a b "Пуитн. Четыре вопроса наследнику престола". (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2006-12-23.
  6. ^ a b c Роман Цепов. "Жертва необратимого процесса" 26 September 2004 Online copy
  7. ^ "Конец Романа. Тайная жизнь и загадочная смерть охранника президента". МК в Питере (in Russian). 2004-09-29. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27.
  8. ^ a b Рафалович, Алексей (2007-01-18). "Пакт Матвиенко - Медведева". АПН Северо-запад (in Russian).
  9. ^ a b Андрушенко, Николай (2006-12-21). "Полоний и три Владимира". Новый Петербургъ №49 (813) (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
  10. ^ a b "Расследование отравления радиоактивным изотопом Романа Цепова, бывшего телохранителя Анатолия Собчака и Владимира Путина". Радио Свобода (in Russian). 2007-01-12.
  11. ^ "Центр Кургиняна. Путин и политика". Центр Кургиняна. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
  12. ^ Михайличенко, Борислав (2004-10-01). "Цепов был мне не чужим"". Московские Новости №37 (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2005-01-06. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
  13. ^ Донсков, Николай (2004-09-27). "Почему погиб охранник прездента". Новая Газета №71 (in Russian). Retrieved 2007-03-20.
  14. ^ "На смену Борису Йордану приходит Роман Цепов". Bankpress (in Russian). 2004-06-23. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
  15. ^ Луспекаев, Павел (2005-03-14). "Генералам нужен злодей?". Юридический гид Санкт-Петербурга (in Russian).
  16. ^ Зея, Никита (2004-09-27). "Роман Цепов умер от неизвестной болезни". Известия-Петербург (in Russian).
  17. ^ "Фарма-мать зовёт?". Ленправда (in Russian). 2005-05-17.
  18. ^ "Атака серых кардиналов". Ленправда (in Russian). 2002-06-17.
  19. ^ Yasmann, Victor (2006-12-20). "Russia: The KGB's Post-Soviet 'Commercialization'". RFE/RL.
  20. ^ Harding, Luke (2016-03-06). "Alexander Litvinenko and the most radioactive towel in history". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  21. ^ "The Putin bodyguard riddle". The Sunday Times. 2006-12-03.
  22. ^ "'King of Shadows' Poisoned". St. Petersburg Times #1007 (74). 2004-09-28. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2019-08-19.

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