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Do the Police Want Reform?

Source: (author), 15/09/10

· Ministry of Internal Affairs

A Comparative analysis of Federal Law № 1026-I of 18 April 1991 “On the Militia” and the draft Federal Law “On the Police”.

Author: Anna Kerova, head of the Legal Department, Public Verdict Foundation


The current law enforcement system in Russia is not coping with the goals and tasks set before it. Nor does it not meet modern requirements. This is recognized both by society and by the leadership of the country and has led to the need for reform.

Probably as a result of the fact that most criticism is directed at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, whose personnel are most often in direct contact with members of the public, the President of Russia signed a decree on 24 December 2000 on improving the work of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. An essential part of improving this system is reform of the functioning of the present-day militia. The priorities of this reform are set out by the decree in terms of organizational and personnel changes, as well as improving material provision for employees.

In particular, in the framework of the implementation of this Decree, on 7 August 2010 a draft Federal Law “On the Police” (hereinafter - the bill) was submitted for public discussion. At the sametime it is planned, as a separate measure, to issue a decree “On the Structure of the Police” and the adoption of a law “On Social Protection”, which have so far not been presented for public discussion and the contents of which are unknown. Since the bill itself gives no clear definition of “the police” (a “single, centralized system of a federal organ of executive authority which carries out the functions of formulating and implementing public policy in normative and legal regulation in the sphere of internal affairs”) it is not possible to speak about the given document as something new. This bill, in the form in which it has been presented for discussion, is in essence the current law “On the Militia” with some modifications and additions, the most important of which is the renaming of the militia as “police”. This conclusion is also supported by the fact that, according to Article 56 Part 2 of the bill, no changes to personnel are foreseen. Militia officers, on their written consent, will remain in the police force occupying the same positions as before.

The above facts have served as the basis for this short comparative analysis of the bill and the current law “On the Militia” presented in this paper.
General comments
Before turning to the article by article analysis, it is pertinent to point out that the proposed bill contains quite a considerable amount of evaluative terminology such as “inappropriate”, “impossible”, “reasonable grounds” and “extraordinary circumstances”. These terms are clearly in need of interpretation and demand definition. For example, the bill gives police the right, enshrined in Art. 15 of the bill, to unimpeded entry or penetration at any time of day into residential and other premises, if there are sufficient grounds for believing that a crime is being committed ....As the legislator does not give a clear definition of such grounds, each police officer has the right to determine them independently for themselves.
Please see the attachment in Russian for the full article-by-article comparative analysis - ed.


The above brief comparative analysis of the new bill and the current law “On the Militia” shows that no reform as such is being carried out. There is only a process of amendment of the law, which to some degree or another takes into account changes to the work of the Ministry of Internal Affairs proposed by the public. However, these amendments have no systematic character. There is no clear strategic concept for reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It is not clear what precisely is being discussed. There is a very general definition of the police, but no exposition of its proposed structure. Moreover, there is not only no attempt to set out the structure of a single, centralized, federal, executive authority. But this authority is given no name either.

The questions about personnel policy also remain open. The proposed bill in practice contains no innovations.

The bill also contains no innovations designed to improve the professionalism of police officers and to optimize the process of training, thereby bringing the police into line with modern realities.

Any reform without changes in personnel policy, without optimization and modernization of the system of education and professional training of offices would seem to be pointless.
Rights in Russia,
17 Sept 2010, 14:19