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THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS

The MVD, which encompassed the regular, or nonpolitical, police, had a long history in the Soviet Union. It was first established as the NKVD on November 18, 1917. It has undergone several organizational and name changes since then. When the MVD was established in 1954, the security police was separated from the regular police. The MVD was originally established as a union-republic ministry (see Glossary) with headquarters in Moscow, but in 1960 the Khrushchev leadership, as part of its general downgrading of the police, abolished the central MVD, whose functions were assumed by republic ministries of internal affairs. Then, in 1962 the MVD was redesignated the Ministry for the Preservation of Public Order (Ministerstvo okhrany obshchestvennogo poriadka--MOOP). This name change implied a break with the allpowerful MVD created by Beria, as well as a narrower range of functions. The changes were accompanied by increasing criticism of the regular police in the Soviet press for its shortcomings in combating crime.

Following Khrushchev's ouster, Brezhnev did much to raise the status of the regular police. In 1966, after placing one of his protégés, Nikolai A. Shchelokov, in the post of chief, Brezhnev reinstated MOOP as a union-republic ministry. Two years later, MOOP was renamed the MVD, an apparent symbol of its increased authority. Efforts were made to raise the effectiveness of the MVD by recruiting better-qualified personnel and upgrading equipment and training. Brezhnev's death, however, left the MVD vulnerable to his opponents, Andropov in particular. Just a month after Brezhnev died, Shchelokov was ousted as its chief and replaced by the former MVD chairman, Vitalii Fedorchuk. Shchelokov was later tried on corruption charges. A similar fate befell Brezhnev's son-in-law, Iurii Churbanov, who was removed from the post of first deputy chief in 1984 and later arrested on criminal charges. After bringing several officials from the MVD and from the party apparatus into the MVD, Andropov sought to make it an effective organization for rooting out widespread corruption; Gorbachev continued these efforts.

Data as of May 1989

Sources and Methods


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