russia reforms police structures
© Alexei Danichev / Sputnik
Russian Rapid response task force.
The Russian authorities are planning to implement major reforms to law enforcement agencies, merging the federal security, federal bodyguard and foreign intelligence services into a structure similar to the Soviet-era KGB, a business daily reports.

Quoting multiple unnamed sources, the Kommersant newspaper wrote that the reforms are scheduled for the nearest future and will be completed before the presidential elections of 2018.

The planned result is the creation of the Ministry for State Security, or MGB - the agency uniting the currently independent Federal Security Committee (FSB), Federal Bodyguard Service (FSO) and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).

In addition, the authors of the plan aim to merge the Prosecutor General's Office with the federal agency for especially important criminal cases - the Investigative Committee - and dissolve the Ministry for Emergency Situations, splitting its tasks between the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry.

The major objectives behind the planned overhaul are stated as improving the effectiveness of state management and measures to counter corruption.

The sources also said that the preparatory stages of the new reforms started in April this year with the creation of the National Guard agency, and dissolution of the Federal Migration Service and the Federal Drug Control Service with transition of their functions to the Interior Ministry.

Comment: Putin's new National Guard
[...]Putin is taking personal and direct control of what he sees are top-priority tasks to deal with major security threats for Russia. We are talking exactly about those capabilities with the European Union so badly needs and lacks:
  • The ability close down the borders to a massive flow of refugees
  • The ability to filtrate a large flow of refugees
  • The ability to deal with large-scale violence and riots
  • The ability to deal with terrorism even on a large scale
  • The ability to centralize the intelligence about internal threats
  • The ability to impose a state of emergency on an entire region
  • The ability to crush any insurgency, including one supported from abroad
  • The ability to seek out and destroy extremist and terrorist groups
  • The ability to interdict flows of weapons and narcotics used to finance all of the above
and, most importantly, the ability to do all this without using the regular armed forces.

What this shows is that the Russians have learned important organizational and operational lessons from the wars in Chechnia and that they are now preparing to defend Russia from the threat coming from the West (the Ukraine) and the South (Daesh) without dumping these security tasks in the armed forces which are fundamentally different from internal security/police forces.

The new State Security Ministry will also receive powers of procedural control of all criminal investigations and the functions of internal affairs departments of all power agencies.

Kommersant's sources added that once the reforms are completed, the current heads of Russian law enforcement agencies would be replaced, but allowed that some of them - such as the head of the Investigation Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin - will be offered "honorary posts without any real influence."

The newspaper said that all the structures mentioned in the article had declined to comment, but that it had received some off the record statements confirming that the plan existed.

Vladimir Putin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on Monday that he could not immediately comment on the Kommersant report.

News of the alleged reforms comes after a series of corruption scandals that hit several Russian law enforcement agencies over the past few months. In July several officers of the Investigation Committee, including the head and deputy head of the agency's internal affairs department, were detained over suspected bribery and power abuse. In September the Federal Security Service detained the deputy head of the Interior Ministry's department for economic security on suspicion of receiving a large bribe. When FSB agents searched an apartment belonging to the man's stepsister, they found over US$120 million in cash.