State protection and fight against extremism: National Guard overtaking MIA
It is expected that two more departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs will be transferred to the new agency.
The General Directorate for Combatting Extremism and the Department of State Protection, which are currently part of the MIA’s structure, may be proceeded over to the control of Head of the Federal Service of the National Guard Troops, Viktor Zolotov. As reported by a Rosbalt’s source, both the fight against extremism and state protection are the closest to the National Guard of Russia’s direction of activity, which was specially created for this purpose. According to the agency’s interlocutor, these plans have already found support in the Kremlin.
In addition, the National Guard may also be empowered to conduct investigative activities, which would turn it into a full-fledged power structure.
The fact that the Department for Ensuring the Safety of Persons subject to State Protection would be transferred to the National Guard of Russia was announced on March 10. Now this structure is directly subordinate to Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev.
The department was established in 2008; in addition to the protection of witnesses in criminal cases and officials threatened due to the nature of their activities (judges, prosecutors, etc.), its scope of duties also includes investigative activities. For example, the department has the right to conduct surveillance, intercept communications with the approval of the competent authorities, as well as carry out other activities provided by the law ‘On investigative activities.’
According to a Ren TV source, 1.5 billion rubles (25.3 million dollars) were allocated for this structure’s operation over the first 5 years of its existence. Expensive equipment was purchased; the expenses could even include change of defendant’s appearance.
However, over time it became clear that such function as investigative activities was not in demand, as it was duplicated by other departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Moreover, a recent audit of this department revealed facts of abuse of official powers. For example, the inspectors suspected that employees of the Department of State Protection could have illegally obtained information about citizens not subject to protection and not included into their circles. In addition, the use of vehicles by the department also caused some questions.
By the way, not only the fight against extremist crimes is included in the MIA anti-terrorist department’s responsibilities, but also participation in the formation of state policy in the established field of activity, as well as improvement of normative and legal regulation.
It should be added that in forming the National Guard of Russia, the following units were transferred from the MIA: Internal Troops, Special-Purpose Center for Rapid Reaction and Aviation Forces, rapid response units, special-purpose mobile units, management bodies and units in the field of non-departmental security, and management bodies and units carrying out federal state control over circulation of arms in the field of private security activities.
According to the Russian MIA’s spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, the detention of Russian woman Maria Butina in the US was specifically timed to coincide with the summit of Putin and Trump in order to minimize the effect of the presidents’ meeting.