Policy Memos

Historical Legacies and Law Enforcement in Russia

Policy Memo:


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The Russian militia has been consigned to the dustbin of history, replaced (as of March 2011) by the Russian police. The change to the name “police” is supposed to indicate a new type of force, one with a more professional outlook as well as a new orientation to citizens. In the words of RosBusinessConsulting, a Russian news agency, a militsioner was an “inspector,” whereas a police officer is a “helper.” However, many experts contend that a change in labels, whether from militia to police or KGB to FSB (Committee for State Security to Federal Security Service), cannot eliminate the pathologies of the Soviet past in Russian law enforcement. This position dovetails with a widespread tendency to invoke “legacies” to explain a wide range of social and political phenomena in the post-communist world.


About the author

Professor, Political Science
Syracuse University