Lt. General Anatoly Yakunin (yes, the other Yakunin], Moscow city police chief, gave an interesting interview to the government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta, which was published on 24 August 2015, and I think it is worth reproducing some passages from it. Notes and subhead in red are mine, other text my translations from the original [italics are questions in the interview].
[Following the government’s requirement that the Ministry of Internal Affairs cut its total payroll by 10%]
AY: Of course, every leader wants to have more staff – it means less load. I want to say that this reduction has been well thought out in the ministry. In particular, we were instructed not to reduce front-line staff. We have already cut nearly 7,000 positions – the required 10%. We had almost 70,000 certified staff, and there are now about 62,000.
I must say that security in the city is not affected. Firstly, we have not cut a single precinct officer, a single patrol police officer. We cut 46 investigators [lit: opers] from the whole contingent [lit: garrison] and the central staff where there is a shortage. …
… we did not touch all of the services that are engaged at the district level directly in fighting crime and protecting the population. We have made cuts in the logistics and personnel services, and at the level of central staff.
[He adds that most of the “cuts” just mean closing or freezing unfilled vacancies, as they were already 4,000 below their establishment strength.]
Basically, we have cut the Extradepartmental Guard [the police’s private security arm] … by about 6 thousand. And they had a shortage of only 800 officer. But we are now offering them other vacant positions, as we [still] have some 2,500 vacant positions in the city. … Plus we still have nearly 1,500 employees, who are at retirement age…
Hiring ex-Ukrainian policemen?
AY: We have taken on something like a hundred from “Berkut” [the infamous Ukrainian riot police] to our Center for Special Purposes, as OMON [riot police].They are working well. They are honest guys, all well trained.
Interesting: do they retain their own symbols, badges?
AY: No, they are wear our uniform and badges, and they are happy. We have solved the [housing] problem, again through the Moscow government, the allocation of grants to them of 15,000 rubles for rent. … Teams have accepted them as if they had always served in our Center for Special Purposes.
Do you have helicopters?
AY: We have three helicopters – that is enough. In the future, we are preparing for the World Cup in 2018. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, in response to our repeated petitions and with the support of the Interior Ministry leadership, has decided to implement an initiative on the construction of an additional building at Petrovka, 38 [HQ of the Moscow police]. The plan is to build a helipad on top. Once we have drawn up the terms of reference, we will hold a competition and prepare the project. Construction will start next year.
[Yakunin is asked about the Tourist Police who patrol some key central areas. He says they get an extra 20,000 rubles a month, covered by Moscow City Council, and there are now more than a hundred, English-speaking, patrolling 13 pedestrian areas in the centre.]
Security outside the centre?
AY: I do not deny that security in some of the residential districts is much less than in the Central District. But we are gradually going to the outskirts. We are increasing the number of cameras, we are carrying out raids. We are working in all of the former industrial areas, including in the area “Gardener” market area [Sadovod market in SE Moscow, a notorious den of crime, counterfeit and illegal migrant labour], where there is also a problem. …
A return to more street patrols?
AY: I know that the residents of Moscow constantly go back in time and ask whether we can restore foot patrols. They are familiar, of course. When I was a kid and came to Moscow, I saw foot patrols here. They were all wearing white gloves, smart, handsome, stern. … Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to bring back foot patrols…
What about crime committed by foreigners?
AY: According to our statistics, of the foreigners who have committed crimes, 98% came from the former Soviet republics. And only 2% are visitors from the far abroad [a term still used to contrast with the “near abroad” of the ex-USSR].
But in general, is the share of foreign visitors in crime increasing or decreasing? At one time, it was said that almost 60% of Moscow’s crime was committed by visitors. What is changing?
AY: Almost nothing changes, 50% is nonresident crime. What is important, is that this crime is not only because of our former republics, but also from Russian regions.
So-called “on tour”?
AY: Yes. So that you get the whole picture, the alignment is as follows: 50% of crimes are committed Muscovites and 50% by nonresident citizens, including foreigners. The “real” foreigners commit more than 20% of the 50% of crimes [so presumably that means “more than 10% of the total.”]. It is mainly immigrants from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. This year, we have eliminated 15 criminal groups, 12 bands plus a large number of organized criminal groups. [The technical distinction between these is pretty arcane.]
… [The so-called ethnic criminals] live very often in the Moscow region, and are plan their crimes in Moscow – here, in their view, is the big money…
As gangsters from 1990s released, can expect new gang wars?
[The term used is a return to the likhy – literally “dashing” but colloquially “nasty” or “tough” – life.]
AY: … We will not allow a return to the previous state of affairs. This is not the time. Now, we have powerful intelligence services, the police is not the same, nor is the state. Therefore, a return to the old dashing life will not be permitted.
Moscow’s criminal world
AY: Here in Moscow there are, so to speak, “registered” about 40 “thieves in law.” Of these, ten are in detention, ten outside Moscow.
At the moment, organized criminal groups of citizens of Tajikistan are very bold, they are carrying out highway robbery. And specialization are being maintained. Georgian organized crime groups were and still are involved in apartment burglaries. There are other crimes, but most of their specialization is burglary. By the way, the percentage of thefts solved has increased, but it is still low: only 21%.
The “Safe City” program
AY: We now have 128,000 cameras. They are different, monitoring entranceways, yards, streets, the metro, and so on. We have uncovered many crimes.
Why not use the Soviet experience or local informants?
Why do not we use the good Soviet experience and do not reach out to the population? In every apartment building there are very active citizens – former retirees, pensioners who are willing and able to help the police. A grandma on the bench. Why not create a small neighborhood activist cell [lit: aktiv]? For example, the district inspector would come to them, they would go out on patrol, like auxiliaries [lit: druzhinniki]. I think many would agree.
AY: I agree… Unlike many regions, we have preserved the Soviet system. Public order enforcement points [OPOP: Obshchestvennyi punkt okhrany pravoporyadka] are very effectively run. There is a chairman of the OPOP, who as a rule is a former law-enforcement officer…