Close protection- the attack on Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny with disinfectant

Article author: Miky Weinberg – Owner of the Tarantula Technologies Ltd and Octagon Security Ltd Companies.

Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was attacked during an election visit to a city in Siberia by a man who approached him from the front and sprayed dangerous green disinfectant on his face. The incident, filmed by another citizen and immediately posted on broadcast networks and social networks, once again proves how difficult it is for personal security guards to deal with existing threats and especially with any course of action that is not clearly perceived and/or does not injure anyone in an unambiguous way as does a combat situation.

Alexei Navalny after the attack:

A video documenting the attack:

As mentioned, in the list of threats against VIPs there are threats that are very clear to close protection specialists such as an unequivocal attack and therefore the transition into a combat incident will be quick and lead to a focused, quick and determined response to try and prevent injury to the protectee or minimize the harm that has already been done. This is a very difficult task for close protection specialists, especially when the adversary managed to get close to the VIP and surprises by making the first move with the attacking action he or she chose to execute.

If in clear cases of assault it can be estimated that professional close protection specialists were not confused or mistaken in identification and response, then in threats like the assault against Alexei Navalny it would be difficult to depart from such a premise. Attacks on VIPs that are carried out by throwing an object or spilling liquid or squirting material, make it difficult for security guards to identify, understand the threat, and later also to choose the right response. In the video, we see that the attacker manages to reach a very close distance from the front with the tool that contains the green disinfectant, without Alexei’s front guard recognizing it before the attack itself and therefore the attacker realizes his malicious intent and manages to spray the disinfectant at Alexey’s face, who is the protectee. The close protection specialists’ lack of understanding of what happened and what attacked the protectee is clearly seen when the front bodyguard reacts willingly to chase after the attacker and immediately afterward seems remorseful and returns to Alexei to understand what it is all about. This confusion among the security guards reinforces the fact about threats that are not as clear cut as a combat incident. Alexei’s close protection team did not see weapons, did not hear the noise of gunfire, and did not hear screams of injury and therefore they reacted with utter confusion.

For close protection specialists to be able to deal with threats of this kind as well, there must be a methodology that defines how security is performed by one or more close protection specialists and is expressed in the professional training that must be conveyed.

When there is a pair of two close protection specialists with the protectee, there is a division of roles for one bodyguard in the position that is close to the protectee in the back and a second bodyguard in the position where generally goes forward before the protectee does. The bodyguard in the front must know how to identify any person coming to the personality from the front sector and must know how to focus on looking into the hands of each such person to try and identify if they have anything that could pose a real danger to the protectee. This professional ability of the security guards is related to the preventive actions – actions that are taken in order to be able to identify in advance the possibility of an attack and reach the potential attacker before reaching the implementation of the chosen attacking action.

To the delight of Alexei Navalny in that in retrospect the attacker probably only wanted to create provocation and did not really want to physically harm him. In contrast, his protection team could not breathe a sigh of relief because they failed in the security task for which they were hired. Close protection specialists who allow the opponent to attack first, start the event with a disadvantage and in some cases even if they react quickly and resolutely will not be able to prevent the injury to the personality and therefore the importance of the correct work of close protection specialists in the prevention phase.

If the opponent managed to surprise and attack first, then the two bodyguards must act in accordance with the division of roles in an emergency situation, with the emphasis on stopping and neutralizing the real threat by attacking and/or removing the protectee from the danger zone. Immediately afterward, the bodyguard that is close to the protectee should check if the protectee has been damaged in order to ascertain if any medical treatment is needed.

I have no idea what is the level of training and professionalism of Alexei Navalny’s bodyguards, but it is clear that the bodyguard was unable to understand what happened and what he should do from the moment the attack began. A professional bodyguard first has to look back to make sure the bodyguard who is close to the protectee was functioning and the personality in a situation where there was no need to join the evacuation and only then he had to act quickly to try and get to the attacker.

Close protection is considered a profession for all that entails, and therefore it requires professional training by a body licensed to perform the above type of training.

Not every security guard can work in close protection and therefore anyone who sends a security guard without special training for this task endangers the protected VIP, the bodyguards themselves, and even himself.

Alexei Navalny could breathe a sigh of relief and could have used his transformation into a green man to advance his candidacy for the presidency in Russia only thanks to the attacker and certainly not thanks to his security guards.

Remember that security should be maintained only on the basis of dedicated and professional training.

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