Bodyguard: what is kompromat?

The word is at the heart of Bodyguard's convoluted plot – but what does it mean?

Kompromat in Bodyguard, BBC iPlayer

Had you ever heard of “kompromat” before watching the BBC’s Bodyguard? You’d be forgiven for hastily googling the term at the heart of the plot of Jed Mercurio‘s gripping drama which described the incriminating evidence on the Prime Minister passed to Keeley Hawes’ Home Secretary Julia Montague. You’re not alone…

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So what exactly is it? “Kompromat” is a Russian word translated as “compromising material” about a powerful person or public figure – in this case details of crimes committed by PM Jon Vosler.

Kompromat is not a recent thing. It’s been used for years and can take the form of anything from photographs and videos to financial records and incriminating emails. And there’s a reason the word has Russian origins – it’s a frequent feature of Russia’s political culture and is a term that has cropped up in many an article in relation to America’s current political situation.

Vladimir Putin was even asked if he had kompromat on Donald Trump in a press conference between the two leaders in July 2018. His response?

“I did hear these rumours that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow. Well, distinguished colleague, let me tell you this: When President Trump was at Moscow back then, I didn’t even know that he was in Moscow. I treat President Trump with utmost respect, but back then when he was a private individual, a businessman, nobody informed me that he was in Moscow.”

Julia Montague and the Kompromat in Bodyguard, BBC

Still, the term “kompromat” hasn’t exactly been in heavy circulation in the fictional landscape of TV drama. That is, until Julia attempted to oust the Prime Minister with her newfound incriminating evidence.

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With the device containing kompromat now in David Budd’s hands, we’re betting it will remain at the centre of Bodyguard’s series finale (airing on Sunday 23rd September at 9pm on BBC1). But will Julia’s possession of it be the link to the explosion that killed her? We’ll have to wait just a little longer for answers…