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Post-Soviet Developments

In recent years the government appears to have dramatically augmenting the MVD forces. While some [disputed] reportss claim that these forces now number 800,000 men, officially the MVD forces are acknowledged to include a force of 264,000. Equiped with with heavy weapons and structured and organized to carry out purely military operations against external enemies, recent changes in the number, training, and mission of MVD forces suggest concern about domestic unrest. In February 1997 Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov, a general with a well-deserved reputation as a hard-liner, was elevated to the rank of deputy prime minister.

On 04 July 1994, FBI Director Louis Freeh and then-Russian Interior Minister Viktor Yerin signed a protocol providing for joint law enforcement efforts, which included opening an FBI attache office in Moscow.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for 743 correctional labor institutions, 168 pretrial detention facilities, and 13 prisons. In addition, the MVD maintains 60 educational labor colonies for juveniles. In 1994 the MVD received only 87 percent of its funds allocated by the federal budget. As a result, it is estimated that prisons were able in fact to provide only 60 to 70 percent of the daily food rations they envisioned providing and only 15 to 20 percent of needed medications and medical care. Prisoners and detainees must rely on families to provide them with extra food and routine medicines.

A range of decrees, orders and instructions, often marked "secret", regulate the actions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Most of these documents have not been published and are not made available upon request. MVD orders and instructions are issued for service purposes and are not supposed to be copied in any way or presented to organizations, societies, agencies, which are not involved in the monitoring of the functioning of the corrective labour institutions. The internal MVD instruction "Internal Regulation Rules of the Correctional Labour Institutions" of 1992 details the rules and limitations concerning day-to- day life in places of confinement. Special Order No. 13 of the MVD (15 January 1993) reintroduced the reduced norm of nutrition, previously abolished in 1988, for prisoners at penitentiaries serving disciplinary punishments in the so-called punishment-isolator (known by its Russian acronym SIZO), punishment cell (kartser) and in solitary confinement cells.

Another secret MVD instruction facilitates the practical training of the special purpose detachments of MVD and OMON at SIZOs and correctional labour colonies. The instruction reportedly allows these units practice their skills on prisoners.

During 1996 the Moscow Center for Prison Reform reported that according to official MVD statistics over 3,000 detainees died in IVSs (temporary holding isolators) and SIZOs and over 9,000 convicts died in prisons and penal colonies.

MVD forces are carrying out various kinds of peacekeeping operations inside Russia, notably in Chechnya. Yeltsin began the invasion of Chechnya on 11 December 1994, intending to to seal off Grozny, eliminate illegal armed formations, and end the participation of the Russian army, transferring authority to the MVD and establishing a temporary government. MVD tasks included reestablishing law and order in the republic, ensureing that public utilies began functioning again, and, together with the FSK, setting up operational investigation groups.

Human Rights Watch and the OSCE have documented several instances in which Ministry of Internal Affairs forces in Chechnya abducted civilian noncombatants as well as Chechen separatist soldiers. According to government statistics, government forces detained 1,308 Chechen noncombatants without arrest warrants in the period up to June 30, 1995. Of that number, the Government admits to still holding 141. The Government claims that the others have been released, but documenting these statements has been difficult.

A wave of contract killings started in 1990, and by 1993 the number of contract murders had increased, with no arrests and little investigation. In most of these cases the killers were never identified, or where the killers were known they were not caught. In a few cases where the killers were identified, they turned out to be former or active officers of the MVD Special Purpose Detachment, OMON, hired by criminalized businessmen to carry out the crime.

Sources and Methods


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Created by John Pike
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Updated Wednesday, November 26, 1997 5:56:23 PM