Why Jeffrey Epstein's Bodyguard Igor Zinoviev Believes He Didn't Commit Suicide

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Why Jeffrey Epstein's Bodyguard Igor Zinoviev Believes He Didn't Commit Suicide

He thinks Epstein may have been killed.

Igor Zinoviev spent untold hours in the company of Jeffrey Epstein. The former MMA fighter was the disgraced sex offender's driver, bodyguard and personal trainer for years, and lived on his property as well as traveled with him. 

He was one of the people who was closest to Epstein for many years. Then, after Epstein's passing, Zinoviev was saying that he didn't think Epstein's 2019 death in a Manhattan prison was a suicide, despite what the medical examiner had said.

In an unedited August 2019 interview published in the New York Magazine Intelligencer column, Zinoviev opened up about Epstein and what he thinks happened in that cell. 

RELATED: 'Filthy Rich' On Netflix: How Did Jeffrey Epstein Make His Money? He Was Worth Millions Before His Suspicious Death

With this interview and the new documentary, Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, that's streaming on Netflix now, people are finally getting a better look into the twisted life and mind of Epstein by getting to know the people who made up his inner circle.

So, who is Igor Zinoviev, Jeffrey Epstein's bodyguard? 

He used to be a Russian MMA fighter.

After spending several years in an elite unit of the Soviet Army, Zinoviev took his skills into the world of professional fighting. He said back in 2003 that he met an American businessman who suggested he come to America to try fighting.

Zinoviev had a background in martial arts and decided to give it a try. His first bouts were bare knuckle fights in underground facilities for the entertainment of, "rich people with cigars.” He then moved into UFC style fighting and was booked to face off against Frank Shamrock at UFC 16 to unite the UFC and Extreme Fighting middleweight titles.

The fight only lasted a matter of seconds: Shamrock picked him up and drilled him into the canvas onto his shoulder and head, breaking his collarbone and knocking him unconscious. The injuries ended his UFC career. 

How did he meet Epstein?

In the 2019 interview in New York Magazine, Zinoviev told writer M.L. Nestel how he got started with Epstein:

"A friend of mine introduced me to him. Basically, as a friend, you know? After that, he asked me to work with him. But honestly I had a pretty good job, so I’m not looking at any jobs — then he called me and asked if I could [do] some stuff. Like do his driver, do like bodyguarding, and just train him and do other stuff. And I thought Just time to change something! I said, 'I could do that.'”

He went on to share that this was right around the time of Epstein's jail sentence for sexual assault in 2008. However, since part of the terms of Epstein's plea deal was daily work release, Zinoviev was often picking him up at the jail and returning him there at the end of the day.

For the next "five or six years," Zinoviev lived on Epstein's properties, traveled with him — including on his private plane — and was privy to many of his activities and secrets.

RELATED: Jeffrey Epstein Bought Nadia Marcinko From Her Family To Be His Sex Slave — Where Is She Today?

Did Zinoviev know about Epstein's crimes?

This latest interview isn't the first time Zinovieiv spoke to Nestel. Nestel asserts that he spoke on the record to Zinoviev in 2015 as well, but the interview was never published.

Now, he reminds Zinoviev of some of his past remarks, saying, "In our conversation in 2015, you described his relationship with teenage girlfriends: 'So many times I tried to stop him. I try to tell tell him my opinion about that. He don’t listen to me. That’s the reason why I’m not working for him no more. I make him do that — to let me go.' Do you remember saying that?" 

Clearly, if this is accurate, it suggested that Zinoviev was privy to Epstein's alleged assaults and the trafficking of minors for sexual purposes, and doing so after his stint in jail on similar charges.

However, he is now denying his own words, saying: "It’s not the teenage girls. I never see the teenage girls. I tell you I never see teenage girls." He continued to push back on the idea that he had seen Epstein with teen girls, saying, "I never see teenage girls in my life at his house. That’s what it is. That’s a misunderstanding. Completely." 

Zinoviev made some shocking claims about Epstein's death.

One of the more striking claims in the interview is Zinoviev's response to questions about Epstein's death. When Nestel asked him what he thought upon hearing the news that his former boss had died, he replied, "Somebody helped him to do that."

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Nestle pressed the point asking, "You think somebody helped him kill himself?" to which Zinoviev said, "Yeah." But when Nestel asked why he thought the suicide seemed suspicious, Zinoviev backed away from the conversation saying, "Listen, you know, that’s going a little too deep."

RELATED: Who Is Abigail Koppel? Everything To Know About Billionaire Les Wexner's Wife Whose Charity Received Millions From Jeffrey Epstein Scandal

There are actually plenty of conspiracy theories surrounding Epstein's death.

Zinoviev wasn't the only one to question how Epstein died. Social media lit up with conspiracy theories in the days following the jailhouse suicide. Even Donald Trump retweeted some of the wild rumors.

After the autopsy results came back, there were speculative articles, such as the Washington Post saying, "Among the bones broken in Epstein’s neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam’s apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensic experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said."

Despite the whispers about other causes of death, the medical examiner ultimately ruled the death a suicide by hanging. 

The criminal investigation is ongoing.

Epstein's death hasn't closed the book on the investigation into his crimes. For any others involved with his trafficking ring, it is possible that they will be facing charges in the future.

As for whether or not Zinoviev has been approached by investigators about his years with Epstein, he refused to answer that question. Nestel asked him, "Have you been talking to anyone in the government, the FBI? Have they come to you?"

After a long pause, Zinoviev only said, "Um. Great talking to you. Seriously. We talk later."

The new Epstein documentary is streaming now.

The new Netflix film dives into Epstein's twisted world, and has also brought to light the names of many of the people who were part of his inner circle and may have been privy to his crimes.

The saga of Epstein has been a complicated one that's carried on well past his passing, as there are not only still questions to be answered about Epstein himself, but about the many others who were involved in his world that seem to be coming out of the woodwork every day.

There are still many unknowns about Jeffrey Epstein's life and crimes. It's astounding that new things are still being revealed regarding Epstein and the young women he groomed and abused.

However, with investigations like this new documentary coming out, there are hopes that some of these questions may finally get answered.

RELATED: 'Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich': Where Is Ghislane Maxwell Today — And Why Hasn't She Been Arrested?

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in August 2019 and was updated with the latest information.

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