Russia Ready For Meaningful Military Reform. Again. Really.

On Friday 26 September, President Medvedev used a meeting in Orenburg with military district commanders during the Centre-2008 exercises to make his latest statements about defence modernisation. The headlines were made by his pledge to revamp Russia’s strategic arsenal: “A guaranteed nuclear deterrent system for various military and political circumstances must be provided by 2020.” However, he promised modernisation across the board: “We must ensure air superiority, precision strikes on land and sea targets, the timely deployment of troops. We are planning to launch large-scale production of warships, primarily, nuclear submarines with cruise missiles and multi-purpose attack submarines… We will also build an air and space defence network.”

On the face of it, this all sounds like news. (more…)


New appointment to MVD command structure

On 8 September, President Medvedev filled one of two gaps in the Ministry of Internal Affairs command structure, elevating Lt. Gen. Alexander Smirny from command of the MVD Organisation and Inspection Department (OID) to become a deputy interior minister. The current leadership structure (including the main operational departments) as of 14 September 2008 is thus: (more…)

Medvedev’s first police reform: MVD loses specialised organised crime department

Under Yeltsin, under Putin, and now it seems under Medvedev, reorganising law-enforcement agencies and overlaying new bodies on top of the existing ones has been the usual response to dealing with serious and organised crime. Cynic though I may be, this was my first thought on looking at Medvedev’s latest decree of 6 September 2008. The Interior Ministry (MVD) is to lose its specialised department for fighting organised crime and terrorism (DBOPT, but still widely known by its old acronym, UBOP) and its local branches. Investigating organised crime will simply be rolled into the work of the existing Main Directorate for Criminal Investigation (GUUR) and local CIDs, while UBOP staff will be transferred to a new body with a rather incongruous combination of roles: fighting ‘extremism’ and protecting judicial officials and witnesses.


Blood Brotherhood: Chechen organised crime

I have just had published in Jane’s Intelligence Review a piece on Chechen organised crime (, 28 August 2008), and while it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to reproduce the whole article here, I thought it might be useful if I summarised some of the main findings.

Chechen organised crime is not a specific gang so much as a distinctive criminal subculture. Often known as the bratva, ‘brotherhood’ – although sometimes it is described as the ‘Chechenskaya obshchina’ or ‘Chechen commune’ – it is a characteristic mix of modern efficiency and a bandit tradition.


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