A retired Russian security officer who was tasked with carrying President Vladimir Putin's briefcase containing nuclear codes was found with gunshot wounds at his home last Monday.
'The Kyiv Post' reported that retired Colonel Vadim Zimin is currently in intensive care after being found by his brother in the city of Krasnogorsk, near Moscow. The Ukrainian newspaper wrote that Russian state media said Zimin was found "in a pool of blood" after he allegedly suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Zimin, 53, is a retired colonel from the Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia's main security agency, who has been photographed with Putin while wearing the leader's 'Cheget', according to 'The Kyiv Post'.
Not as much is known about the Cheget as its US version, but Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty wrote that the Kremlin briefcase first came into use in 1983. This briefcase does not contain a nuclear launch button, but transmits launch commands to the central military command of the general staff of Russia.
Although there have been no known cases of a US president using his codes, the Cheget has been operated on at least one occasion. It happened in 1995 when Norway launched a missile for a scientific study of the northern lights, which Russian radars detected. A mistaken message that the missile was launched from a US submarine was relayed to Moscow, and then-President Boris Yeltsin opened the Cheget for what is said to be the only time in history so far. The Russian president said he and his military leadership determined that the Norwegian missile's trajectory showed it was heading away from Moscow. So they decided not to shoot it down.
The Russian newspaper 'Moskovsky Komsomolets' wrote that Zimin was detained in December on suspicion that he was taking bribes from a businessman in a deal related to a government contract. According to those reports, he was under house arrest during an ongoing criminal investigation at the time of the shooting incident. Zimin had denied the accusations against him.
'Moskovsky Komsomolets' also noted that the nature of Zimin's injuries led to the conclusion that he had attempted to take his own life. 'Kyiv Post' and other outlets reported that Zimin is also believed to have been accused of carrying the Cheget for former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.