(ECFR) On the evening of 5 April Vladimir Putin invited four of his powerful siloviki contacts to accompany him in announcing Russia’s biggest law enforcement reform in almost 15 years. The new National Guard (NG) will be a new federal body with executive powers that is intended to fight terrorism and organized crime.
Not only does this reform act as a corrective to the power imbalance in the siloviki, where, in recent years, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Army have tremendously increased in power, it also serves to keep the siloviki busy and uncertain about their future, coercing them into focusing on the tasks at hand and staying out of politics. By establishing a kind of Pretorian guard which can be used against elites as easily as against ordinary citizens, Putin gains much more room for manoeuvre, whether he wants to stay the course or radically change direction in times of trouble.
The National Guard will be led by Viktor Zolotov, Putin’s own former bodyguard and later longstanding head of the President’s protection service. The new force will include 170,000 former Ministry of Interior troops and a similar number of riot police, special-forces, and police security guards. The new law enforcement structure has been given the status of an “agency” and Zolotov has consequently become a member of the Security Council of Russia. […]
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