No sooner do I write on the panoply of political police agencies in Russia, including the so-called ‘E Centers’ of GUPE, the Interior Ministry’s Glavnoe upravlenie po protivodeistviyu ekstremizmy, Main Directorate for Combating Extremism, that GUPE gets a new boss. Today a presidential decree appointed Colonel Timur Samirovich Valiulin to the position, replacing Yuri Kokov, who has become head of the MVD’s All-Russian Institute for Advanced Training.
Previously, Valiulin had been head of the Moscow city police anti-extremism staff, so he was in charge of its E Centre and, presumably, would have played some role in such recent decisions as the prosecution of Pussy Riot. Although the E Centers have a pretty bad reputation in general, Moscow’s has seemed especially heavy-handed (Ilya Yashin has called it the “most radical” of all — and not as a compliment), so it is hard to be especially uplifted by this news.
Before then, he was head of Moscow police’s directorate for combating organized crime (UBOP) until that was abolished in line with Medvedev’s decree of September 2008. Previously to that, he had been head of the economic crime team in Moscow’s central okrug (district) and deputy chief of the 16th Division of the Moscow GUVD’s Directorate for Combating Economic Crime (UBEP)
As another Moscow appointee, Valiulin is presumably if not a protege of new Interior Minister (and former Moscow police chief) Vladimir Kolokoltsev, at least someone with a certain connection to him. This certainly fits a general trend of the rise of ‘Muscovites’ within the MVD. Viktor Golovanov, for example, was Kolokoltsev’s deputy and interim successor at the Moscow GUVD, before becoming head of GUUR, the MVD’s Main Directorate for Criminal Investigations. Likewise, Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Gostev was formerly chief of staff of the Moscow GUVD.
Valiulin also appears to be on the more active, hardline side of the debate as to how to respond. Combine that with his background in economic crime investigations, and it helps explain why individuals like Alexei Navalny and Ksenia Sobchak increasingly seem to be being attacked through their bank accounts and business activities.