The balloon’s not burst yet
On one level, today’s day of protests in Russia and especially Moscow followed a trajectory which by now is all terribly predictable. The speeches (now with added Gudkov). The rival estimates of turnout (14,000 in Moscow according to the police, maybe 100,000 by some oppositionists’ counts, but probably a maximum of a little under 25,000). The snide putdowns from the Kremlin spin-apparat (apparently Putin was too busy with important stuff like meeting Belarusian autocrat Lukashenka to follow the protests). Radical leftist Sergei Udaltsov’s arrest by the OMON (I suspect he’d be offended if he didn’t manage to get himself detained at such events). It would be easy to be blasé (I notice that it didn’t make the world news front pages of either BBC or NPR), or even to make a snap judgement that the protest movement was fizzling out.
However, my own snap judgement is that things have changed, and in some ways today’s March may signal some deeper developments:
Posted by Mark Galeotti on September 15, 2012
New Interior Minister Kolokoltsev is doing what every new incumbent of the office does: reshuffling the upper echelons of the police. After appointing Major General (Police) Anatoly Yakunin as his successor as chief of the Moscow GUVD (police service), and launching a high-profile anti-corruption campaign in the North Caucasus to show he means business, he has turned to the MVD hierarchy. OnJune 16, Putin announced the replacement of four deputy interior ministers, so the new line-up is:
- Interior Minister: Gen. Vladimir Kolokoltsev
- First Deputy Interior Minister: Lt. Gen. Alexander Gorovoy
- Deputy Minister & State Secretary: Igor Zubov [NEW]
- Deputy Minister: Lt. Gen. Mikhail Vanichkin [NEW]
- Deputy Minister: State Counselor 2nd class Sergei Gerasimov
- Deputy Minister: Col. Gen. Viktor Kir’yanov
- Deputy Minister: Maj. Gen. Arkady Gostev [NEW]
- Deputy Minister and Commander, Interior Troops: Army Gen. Nikolai Rogozhkin
- Deputy Minister and Head of the Investigations Department: Maj. Gen. (Justice) Yuri Alekseev [NEW]
Posted by Mark Galeotti on June 16, 2012
In due course, I’ll post something that I’ve had the chance to ponder over more, but here are some snap thoughts on today’s bloody brawls in Moscow, as the pre-inauguration ‘March of Millions’ degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters. This is certainly the most heavy-handed action we’ve seen by the police in Moscow for some time, but likewise has seen the most serious violence by protesters (see this video, for example), with at least 15 OMON riot police already reported wounded, for example, and molotov cocktails being used.
Posted by Mark Galeotti on May 6, 2012
Not at all clear...
According to Nezavisimaya gazeta (April 2, 2012), President-elect Putin is planning to create a new National Guard, a domestic security force uniting the MVD VV Interior Troops, the MChS Ministry of Emergency Situation forces and various other security and military elements.
This Natsionalnaya gvardiya would include not just paramilitary security forces but also light airmobile units with their own transport aircraft, specialized motorized infantry brigades, and special forces. The Guard would also assimilate the 20,000 officers in the new Military Police, making it in many ways similar to the French Gendarmerie Nationale or Italian Carabinieri: a parallel police service, parallel military and internal security force all in one. (more…)
Posted by Mark Galeotti on April 2, 2012
"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:
Posted by Mark Galeotti on March 9, 2012
As a little light relief from the presidential election and the subsequent punditry, I was contemplating the place of Chechens as a Russian folk devils. For once, this was not so much about terrorists and criminals but the recurring alarum of Chechen police being sent to Moscow for the election.
Posted by Mark Galeotti on March 5, 2012