Saturday, April 16, 2016

New National Guard to prevent Russian 'Maidan'

President Putin worries about unstable times to come in Russia. The formation of a new National Guard is his answer "to keep the peace", and much more: an 'insurance policy' for a new term as president in 2018.
Last week the Russian president signed the decree for one of the largest reorganizations of the Russian security structures since the fall of the Soviet Union. The security forces and domestic forces are merged into one paramilitary organization. 
‘The Face of War’, made of shells by artist Darja Martsjenko 
The new National Guard carries no longer responsibility to the Minister of the Interior, but only to Putin himself. Commander Viktor Zolotov, in the past the bodyguard of the president and head of the presidential security service is its commander.
Russia's security apparatus is indeed impressive. Domestic forces now number more than 180,000 heavily armed men. The riot police OMON employs tens of thousands of members. And then there are other special police units such as the 'rapid reaction force' SOBR. All these units should not be confused with the regular police, which has almost a million men - on a little less than 150 million inhabitants. 
The Soviet leaders never had much faith in the regular army, which did not consist of professionals but of conscripts. When communist reactionaries staged a military coup in 1991, the army sided with the people and Boris Yeltsin. A mistake Mr Putin won't make.

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