Putin regime raised political police above all other force structures, ‘Novaya Gazeta’ says

Image: Denis Vyshinsky, kommersant.ru

Image: Denis Vyshinsky, kommersant.ru 

Analysis & Opinion, Russia

The Kremlin has “often put the E Center” – the informal name of the MVD’s Anti-Extremism Center – “above any other force structure,” a disturbing development because it is by far the “most mysterious” Russian special service and because since its creation in 2008 it has expanded its reach across the country, Irina Gordienko says.

Its officers, the Novaya Gazeta journalist writes, “engage in political investigations, seek out extremism on the Internet, record anti-government meetings on video cameras, and surveillance of activists of various kinds” but in some places, they engage in even more frightening acts.

E Center officers observing and video recording an anti-government protest for further identification and prosecution of its participants  (Image: pn14.info)

E Center officers observing and video recording an anti-government protest for further identification and prosecution of its participants (Image: pn14.info)

In the North Caucasus, Gordienko says, the E Center has been assigned additional tasks including operations against “militants and their accomplices,” tasks for which it answers to no one except the Kremlin and that as a result not only sometimes put it “above any other law enforcement or force structure but sometimes also above the Constitution and the law as well.”

And while the journalist says that the worst excesses of the E Center up to now have been confined to the restive regions of the North Caucasus, she warns that what it is doing there represents a threat to the entire country because Moscow could at some point decide to use it the same way elsewhere.

Formally, regional E Centers are subordinate to the local MVD; but in fact the heads of these service report to their bosses first in the federal district of which they are a part and to Moscow rather than to local officials. This allows them “unlimited opportunities” for the application of force on the basis of decisions not reviewed by anyone else.

Russian police crackdown on Putin opposition

Russian police crackdown on Putin opposition

Like Stalin-era police bodies, the E Center relies not only on its own network of secret informants but also on denunciations who provide it with materials it can use as it pleases, again without being subject to any safeguards. And in the North Caucasus, as she details in the article, this has happened again and again.

Not only are individuals falsely accused and even punished, Gordienko says; but whole categories of people in Daghestan have been classified as undesirable and their rights limited, something that those put on such lists find almost impossible to get off even if the basis of their inclusion is completely false.

The officers of the E Center, especially in the North Caucasus, “live in a world where each day a war is going on in which they are on the front lines.” With their virtually unlimited powers, they are profoundly affected in a negative way by this, just as were the officers of the NKVD in Stalin’s time.


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Edited by: A. N.

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  • Brent

    Coming soon….the return of the Gulag…..

    • laker48

      Or the ultimate bankruptcy and disintegration of the fascist RuSSian Federation. The writing on the wall is getting clearer and better visible by the week.

      • Brent

        Bankruptcy….now there’s something “Drumpf” can teach the Russians how to accomplish!

        • laker48

          A good point! But the combover knows how to get out unscathed, but I sincerely doubt that he will share anything with the dwarf.

  • Alex George

    Russian liberals will warn about this, but the truth is that Russians will accept it – this is the way Russia has been run for centuries.

    Call it the Ochrana, the OGPU or E-Centre, the game is the same. And it only solves part of Putin’s problem – these goons can suppress popular dissent but they don’t help him in his struggle with the Russian elite.

    He gained their support by giving them open season to plunder various sections of the Russian economy, and they are not inclined to give up any privileges just because the Russian government is now going bankrupt. Nor does Putin have the power to force them to do so. He has to persuade, or try to.

    But at least he can use E-Centre to keep the common people quiet.

    • Andrew

      “Nor does Putin have the power to force them to do so”

      Yes he does!