General Plugin to reshape St. Petersburg 

General Plugin to reshape St. Petersburg
Photo: The CrimeRussia

The summer is in full bloom. The holiday season is ongoing. The General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation located on Suvorovsky boulevard is steadily emptying. But its new head is not going on vacation – he is busy with a large-scale purge of ranks. Many chairs of his deputies are currently vacant. But this is not enough for Roman Plugin. The senior personnel of district MIA departments are his next target. Apparently, there will be no more St. Petersburg natives there pretty soon – appointees from Moscow are going to replace them.

Where are you?

From the very beginning, the unexpected appointment of Moscow general Roman Plugin to St. Petersburg became a surprise for everybody. After his hasty relocation to the city of the Neva River and grim straight-faced glances, many people understood that nothing good is going to happen and started wondering what deputy of Sergei Umnov, the predecessor of Plugin, will leave office first. Cordial greetings of St. Petersburg politicians and other public officials had no effect on the unsmiling Moscovite. The requests to take into consideration the “established team” and “St. Petersburg traditions” were ignored. Generals Rogovoy, Vlasov, and Abakumov disappeared from the MIA General Administration by the summer. Colonel Brilliantov, Head of the Directorate for Combating Economic Crimes, has shared their fate. Whereabouts of Sergei Strelin and Igor Paradeev, Head of the Directorate for Criminal Investigation, are unknown.

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MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region

Currently, Plugin has only two deputies: Moscow native Dmitry Baranov, the newly-appointed Head of the MIA Administration for the Leningrad Region, and major general of justice Oleg Antropov, Head of the Main Investigations Directorate. However, rumors circulate that the termination of Antropov is inevitable.

Trains bring new commanders from Moscow to St. Petersburg on a regular basis. For instance, police colonel Viktor Borisenko was appointed two weeks ago the Deputy Police Chief for Public Order Enforcement; earlier, he had held a similar position in the MIA Administration for the Southern Administrative District of Moscow the MIA General Administration for the City of Moscow. It is necessary to note that, in the past, Roman Plugin was in charge of the MIA Administration for the Southern Administrative District of Moscow. Lieutenant colonel Georgy Konosov became the next outsider from the capital; he was appointed the new Head of the Control and Audit Directorate. Earlier, he was a Deputy Head of the Investigations Directorate of the above-mentioned MIA Administration for the Southern Administrative District of Moscow.

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Viktor Borisenko, Deputy Police Chief for Public Order Enforcement of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region (on the right)

Officers of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region believe that this is just the beginning. According to some information, nearly 30 apartments have been reserved for appointees from Moscow, and half of the personnel of the MIA Administration for the Southern Administrative District of Moscow are already packed and ready to go. Insiders think that the purge of ranks is not over yet and the next candidate for termination is general Aleksei Semenov, Head of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate. The fate of mid-level commanders – heads of district MIA departments – is also unfortunate: the hand of Moscow is currently reaching to them.

No time for explanations, leave the chair

It is necessary to note that the initial plans of general Plugin with regards to the heads of district MIA departments have undergone some changes – and became even more harsh.

According to sources, it was originally planned to transform St. Petersburg into a replica of Moscow divided into administrative districts – but then this idea was rejected. The desire of general Plugin remains unchangeable – but Smolny Palace asked who is going to pay for this reform.

The city is obviously not ready for a such a major financial ‘bloodletting’ – which is inevitable if St. Petersburg is really re-divided into administrative districts. The proposed transformation involves the disbandment of the existing municipal districts and subsequent political battles for new pieces of the cake. Nobody is ready for that – especially Smolny Palace and especially after the elections.

So, there will be no administrative districts – but district MIA departments are going to get under the blow anyway. According to sources, Roman Plugin wants to completely change their senior personnel. In the past, the ‘fifty-fifty’ scenario was under consideration, but now people familiar with the situation say that all district MIA departments will get new heads from Moscow.

This staffing decision is quite possible because the general’s goal is to completely eliminate the possibility for district police chiefs to quietly pursue their own policies and sabotage decisions of the new supreme command of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. In the past, staffing reshuffles at the district level resembled a carousel: heads of MIA departments had exchanged chairs, and that was it. Umnov had transferred district police commanders to other districts on a regular basis. As a result, all districts were familiar with police chiefs of other districts – and mutual requests, favors, and conspiracy of silence were in place.

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Sergei Umnov, ex-Head of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region

This is not acceptable amid the personnel reshuffles performed by general Plugin. He does not want a bomb – i.e. a dozen of displeased heads of district MIA departments – ticking under his chair. In addition, a dragged-out war against all district MIA departments means a political failure. Such a war would negatively affect the performance statistics, while screams of ‘sinking’ police officials may be heard in Moscow, which is not in the general’s cards.

Therefore, it was decided to replace all heads of district MIA departments by Moscow natives. After the audit carried out under the command of general Sobol, it is easy to find flaws in their work. Piles of papers, complaints from city residents, and even poison pen letters – everything would be usable. The replacement of district police commanders is just a matter of time. It is hard to say whether this process would be gradual or many districts receive new heads of MIA departments at once. Most probably, district police chiefs in the center of St. Petersburg will be replaced first, then those who are in bad books, and then – the rest of the commanders. The fate of district MIA departments of the Leningrad region is a separate question.

Guests from the future

Reportedly, the primary goal of these reshuffles is to completely root out henchmen of Umnov and Piotrovsky and concurrently gain some interesting facts about the already-retired generals. Glaring examples of corruption may be uncovered in the course of the forthcoming staffing changes. Everything depends on district police commanders unwilling to lose their chairs and ready to share valuable information with their new superiors. Residents of the districts will benefit from this game as well – new heads of district MIA departments, eager to justify their appointments, will promptly react to all complaints and submissions.

No serious staffing disturbances are expected before the elections. In anticipation of such an important political event, everything must be nice and quiet in St. Petersburg. In addition, general Plugin is now busy with scoring points in the eyes of his superiors and, as the media report, “personally controls” all high-profile criminal cases and probes. For instance, he currently supervises the politically charged inquest against Rushan Nasibulin, “a friend of Kudrin”. It does not really matter whether the missing millions are ultimately found or not – the main priority of the general is the reporting, which must be harsh and convincing.

According to veterans of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, the behavior of Plugin indicates that he is going to stay there no longer than 2–3 years. This is enough to gain some political weight – but not enough to send down roots in the city. Rumors circulate that the current post of Plugin is not the last one in his career. As a reward for the successful purge of the St. Petersburg police, the general may receive a good position in the central MIA apparatus. The figures of his new deputies are now of utmost interest – one of them may become the next head of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.


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