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:

Interior Minister: Army Gen. Rashid Nurgaliev [1]

First Deputy Interior Minister: Lt. Gen. Mikhail Sukhodol’sky

Deputy Minister & State Secretary: Lt. Gen. Nikolai Ovchinnikov

Deputy Minister: Evgeni Shkolov

Deputy Minister: Col. Gen. Arkady Edelev

Deputy Minister: Lt. Gen. Alexander Smirny

Commander, Interior Troops: Army Gen. Nikolai Rogozhkin

Chair, Investigations Committee: Maj. Gen. (Justice) Alexei Anichin

Head, Department for the Defence of Public Order (DOOP): vacant

Head, Department of Combating Organised Crime & Terrorism (DBOPT): Sergei Meshcheryakov [2]

Head, Department of Criminal Intelligence (DUR): Lt. Gen. Iskandar Galimov

Head, Department of Economic Security (DEB): Lt. Gen. Yuri Shalakov

[1] Army General is a rank (the highest general-class position), and does not signify an appointment from the military.

[2] The future of DBOPT is in doubt following Medvedev’s apparent desire to turn it into a department combating extremism and protecting witnesses and judges, as reported below.

Smirny has risen largely without trace – even Russian cops don’t seem to know much about who he is. Since 1990, he has been based within the central ministerial apparatus, heading the OID for seven of the last ten years. As such, he has essentially been engaged in audit and oversight work, and given the widespread corruption, inefficiency and administrative chaos still bedevilling the MVD, it is hard to see him as an especially successful officer, but he clearly is a survivor for all that.

His official biography records that he was born in the village of Cherlak, Omsk Region, on 6 January 1959. A career police officer, he graduated from the Omsk Higher Police School of the Russian Interior Ministry in 1980. He joined the Soviet MVD’s OID in 1990 and retained the post when it became the Russian OID, as a senior inspector. He then headed up the Information and Analysis Directorate before serving as an aide to Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin 1997-9. Stepashin went on briefly to become prime minister, but Smirny remained within the central MVD apparatus, returning to the OID as its head as Vladimir Rushailo took over the ministry.

According to the official bio, in 2001, he moved to take over ‘an all-Russia research institute.’ This is an unusually coy and general statement, and it also flies against a report from the AVN Military News Agency (28 March 2001), which reported that the OID was then going to be transformed into a military-style ‘Main Staff’ for the ministry as a whole, a coordinating and centralising body which would be headed by Smirny. That month, Boris Gryzlov took over as minister, and informal accounts suggest that the announcement was a hangover from Rushailo’s time. As it was, Gryzlov quickly countermanded these moves and Smirny, who had presumably found favour with Rushailo, found himself without a job and a patron. He may have been rusticated for a while until he could be found a position. This turned out to be head of the Main Passport and Visa Directorate (GUVIR), which he took over in 2002 – at best this could be considered a sideways move. He does not seem to have distinguished himself there, either, not least by ending up delivering contradictory advice to the US embassy over whether foreigners needed to complete migration cards. By October 2004, though, he was back as head of OID, a position he has held until his most recent promotion.

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