The president signed a range of decrees last Tuesday according to which some security structures have been abolished. The Federal Tax Police Service (FTPS), the Federal Border Guard Service (FBGS), and the Federal Agency of Governmental Liaison and Information (FAGLI) have disappeared. The FTPS has been passed over to the control of the Interior Ministry, the FBGS has become part of the Federal Security Service, and the function of the FAGLI will be divided by the Defense Ministry and the Federal Security Service. Some new structures have been created. The State committee for controlling drug trafficking is underway. The Defense Ministry will create the state defense order committee.

In other words, Russia has again begun centralization of the security structures, like the USSR. Why?

Firstly, it probably is connected with political aspects. Putin has strengthened his power and does not fear “black colonels” and mutinies. At the same time, his intention to centralize and strengthen the FSB shows that he will use stricter secretive measures in order to protect the national security. It is possible that his confidence in the FSB headed by reliable people assures the president that no mutinies will happen in the Russian Federation. This fact casts memories about the KGB’s domination in the USSR. The new structure of the FSB resembles the KGB. The only difference is that the Foreign Intelligence Service is and will remain independent. From now on the Federal Security Service will have troops (units of the former FAGLI and FBGS), which means that the FSB has received an additional force resource. But the main thing is that the FSB’s status has been raised.

Secondly, Putin has decided to centralize the security structures owing to organizational and economic reasons. The FTPS duplicated the functions of police investigating economic crimes. However, the efficiency of tax police was not high. In addition, the experience of advanced democracies shows that tax and investigating structures do not work apart; they are part of units combating tax evasion. The same concerns the FAGLI and the FBGS, which were in charge of the national security but were not linked with the FSB, which must coordinate such activities.

Thirdly, the idea of economic expediency has encouraged the president to create the state defense order committee within the Defense Ministry. It is an open secret that the Russian security structures duplicated each other’s functions and developed new weapons and military vehicles on parallel tracks. The committee must eliminate this contradiction. It will not replace Alexei Moskovskii’s armament department. It will become a coordinating body in charge of military research and development. To all appearances, the committee will be responsible for prospective planning of the security structures’ defense order (the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, and more) and control expenses on research and development, and the purchase and upgrade of weapons and military hardware.

Fourthly, drug trafficking and terrorism have become the No. 1 problem among other threats to Russia’s national security. This is why a special independent department has been created for combating this evil. This explains why Victor Cherkesov, Presidential Envoy for the Northwestern Federal District, has been appointed as chair of the state committee for controlling drug trafficking.

Will the structure of the Russian security ministries change in the future? What reforms will happen in the security structures’ control bodies?

Judging from official reports, changes may take place in the Emergencies Ministry and the Interior Ministry. For instance, the Russian Emergencies Ministry plans to transform the ministry into a civil body. The Emergencies Ministry’s military units will join the Ground Force and reinforce the Armed Forces’ groups in times of war.

In the meantime however, the question as to which department will control the Interior Troops, which will be transformed into the National Guard by 2005, remains open. It is evident that the National Guard will remain a reserve of the High Command like the Airborne Force. Colonel-General Vycheslav Tikhomirov, Commander-in-Chief of the Interior Troops, noted that the Task Force, which will replace special police units, will be created within the Interior Troops. The Interior Troops’ SWAT will turn into a rapid response force. It is evident that the National Guard will become a purely professional structure.

It is not ruled out that the National Guard will be merged with the structures of the Federal Security Service. However, it is also possible that the National Guard will remain part of the Interior Ministry. Tikhomirov prefers the latter alternative. The General Staff seeks to pass over the Interior Troops to the Defense Ministry. Analysts of the General Staff say that this would make it possible to abolish the Ground Force and pass over its functions to the National Guard. The Defense Ministry says that this project is being discussed.

As far as reforms within the Interior Ministry are concerned, the media have repeatedly stated that it will be split to federal police (financed from the federal budget of the Russian Federation) and municipal police (financed by local authorities).

It is supposed that municipal police will be in charge of order in the streets and public places and protect people. Federal police – a centralized structure of the Interior Ministry – will be in charge of investigating crimes, protecting public order and special buildings, combating tax evasion (a new function), and protecting order on transport facilities. In addition, this service will be responsible for traffic security, licensing of some kinds of activities, issuing visas, and passport control. It is supposed to create independent criminal police units, social security police, economic, transport, tax, and migration police within the structure of federal police. The investigating committee will be reformed into the Federal Service of Investigation.