Federal Service of Troops
Russian Federation National Guard (RF FSVNG)
Federal'naya Sluzhba Voisk
Natsionalnoy Gvardii

Russia's president signed a decree April 05, 2016 to create a national guard tasked with fighting terrorism and organized crime. The new federal agency would be led by Vladimir Putin's former chief bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov. Putin said in a televised meeting with Zolotov and other top security officials in the Kremlin that the new government entity would merge the country's interior ministry troops with riot police and swat teams. He also said that Russia's drug control and migration services would be incorporated into the interior ministry's structure.

The National Guard was headed by Viktor Zolotov, formerly the commander of the Internal Troops, and the former head of the president's personal security. His new rank would be equal to that of a federal minister. As head of the National Guard, Zolotov would have a cabinet-level seat in the Security Council, the powerful Kremlin advisory body, and would report directly to the president, bypassing the interior minister.

A veteran officer in Russia's security services, Zolotov served as Putin's personal bodyguard starting in 1999. Before that, he served as bodyguard to President Boris Yeltsin, and to St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoli Sobchak, which was where he met Putin. Between 2000 and 2013, Zolotov was the head of the president's personal security service, serving as the deputy director of the Federal Protective Service, the agency charged with the protection of high-ranking state officials, including the president.

The decree listed the main duties of the newly created national guard, which in addition to the fight against terrorism and extremism, include other functions such as participation in the territorial defense of the Russian Federation, protection of important state facilities and special cargoes, support for border protection, and the monitoring of compliance with the law in the areas of arms circulation. The decree says that it takes effect on the day of signing.

Plans to create the National Guard, which would be subordinated to the president, were reported in 2012. Initially it was assumed that the first and foremost at the National Guard would be protective function (why its leaders and other main guard President): combating riots, prevention and liquidation of mass disorders. It was assumed that the National Guard would be formed to ensure the security and protection of the constitutional order on the basis of Russian Interior Ministry and other security agencies, including at the expense of the forces and means belonging to the Airborne Forces, Air Force, Navy and the military police, as well as elements of EMERCOM of Russia. But in the end the National Guard gained expanded functions, which meant more hardware for Zolotov.

The term "National Guard" appeared at the initial stage of the French Revolution to designate units to ensure order in the streets of Paris. At the beginning of the XIX century this was the name adopted by the Americans: US National Guard was equipped with military reservists who periodically mobilized to suppress the riots.

Formed out of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Guard, according to the president, would continue to work "in close cooperation" with the ministry. The new National Guard's tasks, the president noted, would include those previously assigned to OMON and SOBR, tactical special rapid response forces whose functions include the maintenance of public order, assisting police (in a manner similar to SWAT in America), and maintaining order in the event of a state of emergency.

Based on the decree of the text, it can be assumed that the National Guard under would be responsible for the suppression of unlawful protest, spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov said. "Illegal, we can assume that the course" - Peskov said, but rejected the suggestion that the National Guard was created as a proactive step "in order to prepare for some rallies." The president's press secretary assured that the National Guard under the appearance was not associated with the forthcoming Duma and presidential elections.

The new Federal Service of troops of the National Guard include units of special rapid reaction forces (SWAT) and riot police, Special Operations Center Rapid Reaction Force and aviation security and observation technologies, in particular the Center for special purpose private security Interior Ministry, Interior Ministry, which supervises the observance of the legislation in the field of trafficking in arms and in the field of private security activities, as well as the Federal State Unitary Enterprise "Security", which provides services for the paramilitary and the physical protection and the installation and maintenance of security equipment.

The National Guard would also be charged with assuring territorial defense, preventing and dealing with internal armed conflicts, and guarding important facilities, such as nuclear power plants, and cargoes, as well as the protection of other property. The federal body, according to the decree, would also work with the Federal Security Service (Russia's main intelligence agency) in the protection of state borders.

Internal troops guard the order of more than fifty of so-called "closed" cities of the country. Including a million people. As well as around 100 important state facilities, including nuclear power plants, nuclear power companies and even nuclear icebreakers. The military explosives - true professionals, which was very important for ordinary citizens: for thus minimize the possibility of a deadly error, which out of ignorance or inability soldiers could make.

It was only at first glance, the internal forces play only a protective, almost peaceful function. And in this regard, even abandoned heavy weapons - they do not have tanks, rockets and heavy artillery. Nevertheless, in some ways this was the most belligerent forces. Every year about 15 thousand soldiers, non-commissioned officers, warrant officers and officers awarded departmental and nearly 300 soldiers - the state awards. They detained more than 1 million offenders, including some tens of thousands of criminals. And the guards for the protection of important state objects to catch more than 30 thousand offenders exclusion zones.

As of May 2016, the size of the Guard force had not been confirmed. Unconfirmed estimates range from 250,000 to 400,000. With a wide mandate and armed with tanks, heavy artillery and attack aircraft, an entity of this size would be a very powerful force. Other European national guards are dwarfed compared to Putinís National Guard in sheer numbers. The contrast was especially stark in some cases. For example, the Lithuanian Armed Forces consist of about 16,000 soldiers, and the Latvian National Guard has some 11,000 personnel.

The reorganization was significant precisely due to the new body's potential size and strength. The Ministry of Internal Affairs includes Russia's police and traffic police; the Internal Troops, meanwhile, constitute a gendarmerie-like paramilitary force. The total number of Ministry of Internal Affairs in 2015 was little more than a million people. Of these, about 170,000 [by one estimate] were internal forces that were deployed almost throughout the country.

The Internal Troops numbered about 200,000 men [by another estimate], and in addition to their other functions, they play an important role in maintaining law and order in the North Caucasus. The troops are fully motorized, have access to armored vehicles (though in smaller quantities than the army), and have their own aviation, engineering, marine and other formations as well.

In addition to the Internal Troops, the National Guard would include territorial SWAT and riot police, as well as federal security guard services, totaling 230,000 people; all told, therefore, the new federal service would have up to 430,000 people under its command.

The decree on the National Guard was part of a major reorganization of the security forces. In addition to the formation of the new service, Putin announced that Russia's Federal Migration Service and the Federal Drug Control Service would be merged into the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which already had ample experience in dealing with both drug crime and issues related to migration.

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