The Security Forces, Moscow, March 4

"Russia. Putin. Victory."

The presidential election weekend (and the following Monday, given the decision of activists to gather at Pushkin Square) saw Moscow in the grip of a massive security operation that saw especially the heart of the city swamped with police and security forces of every kind. A reported extra 6,500 personnel were drafted in (although I suspect this is a conservative figure), over and above the extensive array of forces already present in the capital, which I have detailed elsewhere, in my post Moscow’s Praetorians. Being a rather obsessive cop-spotter, I made a point of trying to identify as many of the elements I could see. Obviously there may well have been a number I missed, but the tally I came up with included:

♜ Police, of a wide range of them from all arms of the service (Patrol-Guard Service, DPS traffic cops, etc), drawn from across the city and also from elsewhere in Moscow region, and supplemented by police cadets

♜ OMON special designation riot police from both the Moscow City and Moscow Region detachments were especially thickly clustered around the Manezh Square. There were also OMON from elsewhere, as I saw some with slightly different badges and — let this be a sign of my obsessiveness — different types of boots, but I was unable to get close to them to ask as they were behind a cordon. I suspect they came from a provincial city rather than, say, St Petersburg. Maybe Ekaterinburg? An unconfirmed report in Novaya Gazeta said that 6000 OMON were deployed, including contingents from Chelyabinsk, Ekaterinburg, Rostov and Saratov.

♜ 1st and 2nd Operational Regiments, of the Moscow police. Both have specialized public order roles: the 1st brings together the city’s mounted police, the 2nd reports directly to UOOP, the Moscow police HQ’s public order directorate and is tasked with handling major public events and disturbances. I saw 2nd OP police in riot gear also deployed as part of the operation against the activists at Pushkin Square on the Monday evening.

♜ 1st ODON (1st Independent Special Designation Division), the elite MVD Interior Troops unit based in Moscow, still widely known by its old title, the Dzerzhinsky Division. Large numbers were deployed off Manezh Square and on Monday evening they were used to maintain an over perimeter along Bolshaya Dmitrova, etc.

♜ MVD VV Interior Troops from both the Central (Moscow) and North-West (St Petersburg) VV Districts; these were largely kept in reserve near their truck columns, although they were also present around Pushkin Square on the Monday. They included the Central District’s 95th and 55th Divisions and its 21st Independent Brigade (based at Sofrino). Thanks to Andrei Soldatov for the identification of those last two units.

♜ Federal Guard Service (FSO) elements, conspicuously armed with AKS-74U assault carbines, were especially heavily deployed around their usual locations (the Kremlin, the State Duma building, etc)

♜ The Ministry for Emergency Situations (MChS) had an appropriately substantial presence of ambulances and fire-engines in central Moscow (it’s worth noting that doctrine calls for the latter to be pressed into service if needs be as water cannon)

♜ There was also a particularly heavy presence of the security forces of specific ministries and state bodies, such as the RZhD (Russian State Railways) police.

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