Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Russia Militia Units Won’t Shoot at Their ‘Own’ People But Outsiders Will if Moscow Requires It, Retired MVD General Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, November 10 – On this Militia Day, the anniversary of Lenin’s creation of a worker’s militia in 1917, the attention of most Russians has been caught by the criticism of the Interior Ministry by MVD Major Aleksey Dymovsky on YouTube where it has already been viewed more than half a million times.
But perhaps a more important statement about the Russian police force was made by retired MVD General Vladimir Ovchinsky, who now serves as an advisor to the chairman of the Russian Federation’s Constitutional Court, who said that local militia units are “hardly likely” to fire on the people among whom they live (svpressa.ru/society/article/16680/).
“It is no accident,” he told “Svobodnaya pressa,” that when there were protests in the Far East over Vladimir Putin’s imposition of import fees on foreign cars, Moscow sent in “OMON units” from the outside to maintain order out of a concern that “local structures hardly would enter into a conflict with their own population.”
Ovchinsky’s comments come in the wake of a declaration by a union of militia officers in Moscow that “in the case of mass disorders, the militia will not shoot at the people,” a statement that Ovchinsky said should not have been made and does not correspond to the truth since units from other locations can always be brought in and counted on to maintain order.
(Ovchinsky dismissed the notion that Russia’s army of private security firms could play any role in putting down demonstrations: “They are interested only in profit; they are not interested in dealing any problems arising from disputes with the population.” Consequently, he added, that he does not believe that they “could be used against anyone.”)
But having said that Moscow would have to move forces from one place to another in the event of a mass protest getting out of hand, the advisor to the Constitutional Court said that he did not expect the Russian government to face such protests in the near term given that the Russian population has not risen at any point since 1991.
“One needs to read Lenin and Trotsky more often,” the former MVD general said. “Where there is no organizing force or party, there will not be any social uprisings or revolts. If there is a local leader inclined to leading a revolt, he will be able to mobilize the people. But the question arises: What would he do that for?”
“There are thousands of reasons over the course of the last 18 years after the collapse of the Union,” he continued, “for social explosions. But there haven’t been any. Because there is no subjective factor – no parties or social movements which might have mobilized the people” and led them into the streets.
“All the mass disorders” of this period, he said, “were connected with other situations like those in Kondopoga, when ethnic mafia structures clash, when there has been a clan struggle in the North Caucasus – remember the well-known events in Daghestan and Karachayevo-Cherkessia, when one clan sets the people against another clan, one mafia against another.”
“But political structures” in Russia, the retired general concluded, “did not mobilize anyone for anything during this entire period.” And consequently, he said, any problems Moscow may face in one or another region are unlikely to challenge the central powers that be given that the latter can move forces in from the outside.

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