He also announced that Russia’s drug control agency and federal
migration service would become part of the interior ministry’s remit.
The creation of a National Guard has been talked about for years. Mr
Peskov said he "could not explain" the timing but denied it had anything
to do with upcoming elections or any mistrust of other law-enforcement
But there are suggestions that President Putin is concerned about
possible unrest in the run-up to parliamentary elections in September.
Liberal Yabloko party leader Emilia Slabunova said it was an "attempt by
the authorities to protect themselves from protests" while independent
military analyst Alexander Golts said Russian authorities were concerned
by "colour revolutions" in neighbouring countries such as Ukraine and
Pro-Kremlin officials have welcomed the change, but opposition figures
and commentators fear a further strengthening of security structures.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said the new force would "enhance units’
operational capability". The head of the State Duma’s defence and
anti-corruption committee, Irina Yarovaya, said it was "an absolutely
timely, adequate and systemic answer to modern challenges and threats".
The National Guard looks set to become a powerful force. Its proposed
powers include the right to shoot or use force without warning and enter
private premises while on duty when there is a threat to the lives of
civilians or National Guard personnel.
Some unconfirmed reports suggest it could number up to 400,000 people
and have tanks, heavy artillery and attack helicopters. What is not
clear is how the new force will work with the interior ministry and
other security agencies.