Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 125

Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin has announced a major new experiment that will begin in seven Russian cities in July. Speaking in St. Petersburg, one of the cities to take part in the experiment, Stepashin said the experiment will involve the creation of police sub-units at municipal level. Tasked with maintaining public order, the new units will be responsible to municipal governments. Until now, all police units have been subordinated directly to the Interior Ministry in Moscow. The experiment is to last two to three years. (Itar-Tass, June 26) Several regional leaders have been campaigning to have responsibility for some police functions devolved to the regions. Leading the campaign has been the president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, who has complained bitterly about the inadequate level of security provided by Moscow in his republic. The governor of Saratov Oblast, Dmitri Ayatskov, has called not only for devolution of authority but for police officers to be locally elected.

Stepashin also revealed that an order has been prepared to create an operational headquarters in the North Caucasus, to which all of the region’s security forces, FSB units and border guards will be subordinated. This does not, he stressed, mean that any more troops will be sent to the region. (RTR, June 27) During the war in Chechnya, the armed forces and the internal troops and OMON, which were subordinate to the Interior Ministry, also fought under a single command as part of the United Group of Forces deployed in Chechnya.