Viktor Cherkesov's source was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery. The farewell ceremony for Viktor Cherkesov was scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in the church on the territory of the Novodevichy Convent in St. Petersburg, but the Colonel General's disciplined colleagues began to gather there in small groups in advance – by 11:00 a.m. Most of the gray-haired men greeted each other warmly. Regardless of the status and price of the costume, many of them were clearly united not only by the personality of the deceased and military bearing, but also by the corporation with which Cherkesov tied his fate.
During his lifetime, he sincerely worried that the mass culture of the 2000s turned “the lofty image [of state security officers] into a popular print.” He was annoyed by how the Chekists were portrayed as masked special forces or almost indistinguishable from the “brothers” of Western heroes with a “boy” ethic. Instead of an intellectual who averts trouble, the public was sold a “superman who resolves the situation,” Cherkesov wrote in Komsomolskaya Pravda in 2004.
“Society is getting used to the constant presence of the “special forces” principle in its life. That is, the norm becomes that which, by definition, is exceptional. The emergency becomes the norm. Where does this lead? In addition, there is no longer any need to bear responsibility for allowing an emergency,” the then still very influential general, the head of the Federal Drug Control Service, created “under him”, argued.
Surely, supporters Cherkesov's views prevailed among those gathered to see him off, and among the current security officials they seem to be in the minority. Of the notable civil servants who knew Cherkesov, apparently only the closest and most caring came to the funeral.
But everyone stood around the coffin in the general crowd, without an extra retinue and noticeable security: the governor of the city Alexander Beglov, his predecessor and chairman of the board of directors of USC Georgy Poltavchenko, deputy presidential envoy in the Northwestern Federal District Lyubov Sovershaeva, deputy chairman of the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly Marina Shishkina and former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin. From the current leaders of the federal level came the deputy chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia Alexander Fedorov, who began his career in the investigation of the KGB and worked hand in hand with Cherkesov for many years: in the St. Petersburg department of the FSB, and then in the northwestern embassy and the FSKN. From the Duma faction of the Communist Party, where Cherkesov ended up after leaving the civil service, the director of Gangster Petersburg, Vladimir Bortko, was in the temple.
But the president did not forget the old comrade. The funeral ceremony began with the announcement of a telegram from Vladimir Putin: “Please accept sincere words of sympathy and support. Victor Vasilyevich Cherkesov devoted himself to serving the fatherland, in the most important areas of work he demonstrated the highest professionalism and devotion to the motherland, honorably fulfilling his duty. A bright memory of him will forever be preserved among his relatives, comrades, friends and all who knew this wonderful person. They also brought a wreath from the president with white, blue and red roses to the ceremony – it seems that this was almost the only personal wreath from a high-ranking official. It seems that Putin acted in this way like the priest Dionysius, who, before the ceremony, said that “the hour of pure prayer is coming,” urged to forget about the mistakes and remember the good deeds of the deceased.
Cherkesov Viktor Vasilyevich was born in 1950 in Leningrad. In 1973 he graduated from the law faculty of the Leningrad State University, then worked in the prosecutor's office. Since 1975, he served in the KGB, rising to the rank of head of the investigation and deputy head of the Leningrad department. From 1992 to 1998 – Head of the Federal Grid Company, then the FSB for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. From 1998 to 2000 – First Deputy Director of the FSB. From 2000 to 2003 – Plenipotentiary of the President in the Northwestern Federal District, then – the founder and head of the Federal Drug Control Service (from 2003 to 2008). From 2008 to 2010 head of the Federal Agency for the supply of weapons, military, special equipment and materiel. Since 2011 – Deputy of the State Duma from the Communist Party. Colonel General, Honorary Counterintelligence Officer, Honored Lawyer of the Russian Federation. Wife, Natalya Cherkesova, former editor-in-chief of the St. Petersburg newspaper Chas Pik and founder of the Rosbalt news agency, recognized as a foreign agent.
Then the floor was given to the governor of St. Petersburg. Beglov recalled the “difficult times” during which he met Cherkesov. “When someone came and said that things were going badly, Viktor Vasilyevich often said: What have we done to make it good?” – the governor recalled, apparently firmly embedded in his memory, a quote from his former head of the presidential embassy in the North-West. He also thanked the deceased “for the school, for friendship, for serving Russia and the city.”
Despite not the most eloquent speech, Beglov's words still felt his sincere affection for the late general. Speaking first at the coffin, the governor remained at the funeral ceremony until the very end and was one of the last to leave Cherkesov's grave, accompanied by the abbess of the Novodevichy Convent.
The speech of the former head of the Faculty of Journalism at St Petersburg University Marina Shishkina from the city legislature, who did not work with Cherkesov, but was friends with his family and wife, turned out to be very personal: “Natasha, I know how hard it will be for you. I don't remember you at any event without him. I know how you were connected to each other. This love will remain with you forever, despite this loss, completely unexpected and undeserved. As an acquaintance of the Cherkesov family told Vedomosti, although the general had long been undergoing long-term treatment for a serious illness, he actively spent time with loved ones, even traveled abroad. A sharp and sudden deterioration in their health occurred literally in recent weeks and was an unexpected blow for them.
Perhaps Stepashin distinguished himself with the most heartfelt speech at the coffin. After the speech of the GKChP, Boris Yeltsin appointed him, a lawyer and a native of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who then headed the committee of the Supreme Council for Veterans Affairs, first to lead the commission to investigate the activities of the “putschists” and the KGB, and then the St. Petersburg department of the Federal Security Agency of the RSFSR, in the rank of deputy head of the created on the fragments of the KGB special services. Then, in the autumn of 1991, Stepashin met Cherkesov, a Chekist already well-known in St. Petersburg. His reputation as a fighter against Leningrad dissidents then seemed not the most promising for a career in modern times: it is believed that Cherkesov in the early 1990s. initiated one of the last criminal cases in the Soviet Union under the article on anti-Soviet agitation, Cherkesov's colleague explained to Vedomosti.
And the general did not deny his role. “As for the last period of the existence of the USSR, the period of stagnation and ideological decline, then at that time the ideology rapidly evolved to insanity. This was clear to any thinking person. And there were a lot of thinking people in the KGB,” Cherkesov explained in Komsomolskaya Pravda. – Why did these people, including the author of these lines, persecute, but in fact – subjected opponents of a very imperfect ideology to legal constitutional coercion? Because they clearly understood: in most cases, the hand that aims an allegedly ideological weapon aims at the heart of the state. And he doesn't hide it. When such instruments of someone else's evil will did not realize what was said once and for all: “The bloody one could not understand at that moment what he raised his hand to,” we tried to achieve this understanding. And not to break the fate of people. At least that's what I've always done. And I know for sure: I'm not alone.”
However, in the KGB Cherkesov by that time was respected primarily for his participation in serious counterintelligence operations. Among the general’s awards during his service is the Soviet Order of the Red Star, which was not easy to earn in investigative or operational work at that time. “Today is also a difficult time, but then there was neither the Soviet Union nor the Russian Federation, there was a “gangster Petersburg”, as the writer [Andrey] Konstantinov called it. And his romance was true, ”Stepashin recalled the end of 1991. Then they obviously worked well with Cherkesov. Stepashin recommended to Yeltsin that Cherkesov be appointed responsible for state security in St.At first, the first mayor of St. Petersburg, Anatoly Sobchak, an influential leader of the Democrats, was wary of Cherkesov. Putin personally contributed to the establishment of relations between the governor and the head of the city state security, a former employee of Sobchak's apparatus, who knew Cherkesov, explained to Vedomosti. According to him, the then head of the mayor's office committee on foreign relations recommended Sobchak to take Cherkesov with him on one of his foreign trips. In it, the mayor, having got the opportunity to talk closer and get to know the chief Chekist of the city better, changed his skeptical attitude towards him. As head of the St. Petersburg department of the FSK and then the FSB, Cherkesov worked for almost the entire 1990s, until in 1998 Putin asked to be appointed his first deputy in the FSB.
On the same trip with Sobchak, Cherkesov became closely acquainted not only with the mayor, but also with his future wife, the editor-in-chief of the popular city newspaper Chas Rush, Natalia Chaplina. Since then, the founder of Rosbalt, recognized as a foreign agent, remained close to Cherkesov until the last days of his life – having gone through with her husband both the period of his career take-off, when Cherkesov held senior positions in federal departments, and the years after his resignation, when the opposition faction of the State Duma became the last refuge of the general . The widow herself on the day of her husband's funeral asked not to disturb her with questions, but family friends spoke willingly and even harshly.
“73 years is not an age for a man, of course. I believe that a person has sores and death, very often, from injustice, – Stepashin, it seems, expressed the general pain of the audience. – He was not only a brilliant security officer, but also a professional lawyer, for whom the law is not an empty phrase, but a state of mind, life, honor and conscience of a Soviet officer. Victor was not easy, you know that. He had his own position, had his own point of view and never caved in to circumstances. I sincerely regret that its potential, from my point of view, was not fully perceived. Victor, thanks for your service! We will remember you.”
Next to the former prime minister, crouching behind Cherkesov's closest comrades, was General Alexander Bulbov. His health was undermined by two terms of stay in the pre-trial detention center. One – for supporting the Supreme Council in 1993, when he, being a military counterintelligence officer, took the side of the parliament, but was released under an amnesty, the second – for cases related to the work of the Federal Drug Control Service.
In many ways, for the sake of Bulbov, Cherkesov put his own career on the line. When Bulbov was arrested by the FSB in the fall of 2007, Cherkesov decided to start a public debate. From the pages of Kommersant, he, the director of the Federal Drug Control Service, contrary to the established apparatus ethics, called on the corporation, which, in his opinion, hung the country falling into the abyss on a saving “Chekist hook”, “to prevent the soldiers from turning into merchants.” This publication had one task – to save Bulbov, whose team, on behalf of Cherkesov, dealt with cases of law enforcers involved in protecting smuggling. The head of the FSKN considered the arrest of his subordinates the revenge of the leaders of the FSB for the “honor of the uniform” hurt on the eve of the election of the successor to the president. “I knew that my commander was nearby,” Bulbov recalls in an interview with Vedomosti.
The country's leadership did not appreciate Cherkesov's public skirmish with the leadership of the FSB. A few months later, after the 2008 presidential election, Dmitry Medvedev, who became his successor, fired Cherkesov. But relatively honorary – the head of the Federal Agency for the supply of weapons, military, special equipment. Reshuffles then took place in the FSB. But Nikolai Patrushev, in contrast to the agency that does not influence anything, “paper”, as Cherkesov put it, received a significant post of Secretary of the Security Council, which became not only a center for the development of strategic documents, but also access to the first persons of the country and international contacts.
All cases against Bulbov gradually came to naught. Cherkesov, in the end, decided to try himself as a deputy, and even from the opposition faction of the Communist Party. However, the Chekist explained to everyone that the socialist ideas remained close to him from the time of his service in the KGB. Although participation in public politics for Cherkesov was limited to an interview with MK in 2011, many associated with him the work of the Rosbalt agency, which published resonant materials about high-profile criminal cases.
Remaining a non-public person, Cherkesov retained a group of like-minded people around him, Bulbov told Vedomosti, who had been in contact with his former boss in recent years. According to Bulbov, Cherkesov remained a loyal supporter of Putin to the end, and the country's top leadership continued to listen to his opinion until a certain point. But gradually this influence faded away. Nevertheless, Bulbov believes that not only Stepashin, Poltavchenko, Beglov and Fedorov, who came to power, remained close to Cherkesov in spirit among people in power, but also, for example, the first deputy head of the presidential administration, Sergei Kiriyenko. “Well, as for the generals, here it’s where you point your finger, there [in law enforcement agencies] Viktor Vasilyevich left a strong team of statesmen,” says Bulbov. According to him, at the end of his life, Cherkesov was most worried that in the country “far from everything is as rosy as they report.”
the end of the ancient and quiet monastery cemetery, among the dilapidated and picturesque stone crypts of St. Petersburg aristocrats. The last journey of the chief Chekist of bandit Petersburg ended quite modestly, but to the sound of the national anthem and volleys of the guard of honor company. And not far from the place where his career began – the building of the prosecutor's office of the Moscow region, where he worked before the KGB, right after the law faculty.