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Update: MVD reforms; Moscow bombings redux

04/22/2010


THE ISCIP ANALYST
(Russian Federation)
An Analytical Review
Volume XVI, Number 12, 22 April 2010
 
Russian Federation
Security Services by Fabian Adami
Update: MVD reforms; Moscow bombings redux
In the last five months, there has been a significant amount of political attention paid to reform of Russia’s Interior Ministry. A Presidential Decree on the subject was signed by Dmitri Medvedev in December 2009, mandating meaningful cuts in personnel and bureaucracy, and ordering the agency to make real changes in its vetting procedures in a declared attempt to weed out corruption. Interior Minister Nurgaliyev apparently was required to report back to the President with his reform proposals by the end of March. (1) The concept of Interior Ministry reform was introduced before the suicide bombings in Moscow last month. In the aftermath of those attacks, it was legitimate to question whether changes in fact would be implemented. It now seems that reforms are to go ahead.

On April 2, Kommersant-Vlast’ reported that Nurgaliyev had signed an order creating a new “anti-corruption subdivision” within the MVD. The main roles of the “Office of the Organization of the Prevention of Corruption and Other Offences” will be to “collect, check and make public” details on the income of ministry employees, and to approve appointments and promotions. (2) Then, on April 7, the Interior Minister appeared on Militseyskaya Volna Police Radio, where he announced that personnel cuts would be achieved via the careful assessment of staff. Nurgaliyev claimed that individuals would be evaluated based on their “professional, moral and psychological qualities,” and that selected personnel would be offered retirement on full pension. (3) During the same interview, Nurgaliyev claimed that the MVD would soon place the “concept of a future law” on its website, where any citizen would be able to discuss it and make comment. The new law is to be presented to the Duma no later than December 1, 2010. (4)

At the time of writing, there is no indication in the press that the proposed law has been published, and obviously, judgment must be withheld until it can be properly analyzed. A legitimate question that can be asked at this time is, who will monitor and have enforcement rights over the MVD’s anti-corruption division? Without outside oversight in the form of an independent police ombudsman with powers of subpoena, investigation and prosecution, it would be naïve to believe that the creation of a new bureaucratic department amounts to a real “reform.”

Moscow bombings redux
On Monday, March 29, in the middle of Moscow’s peak travel hours, two explosions occurred in the city’s Metro system. The explosions took place at two locations that clearly were selected for their political and military impact: Lubyanka and Park Kul’tury, which is located in close proximity to the Defense and Foreign Ministries. By the following morning, the fatalities listed amounted to 39, with a further 70 people injured to varying degrees. The FSB moved quickly to portray the bombings as revenge for the death in a special operation less than three weeks earlier of Said Buryatsky, a leading militant operating out of the North Caucasus. 48 hours after the Moscow attack, two further suicide bombings occurred in Kizlyar, Dagestan, in which 12 people were killed. Just as was the case in Moscow, one of the blasts was targeted at the FSB, with the first blast occurring outside the agency’s regional offices. (5)

The FSB’s aforementioned claim proved incorrect when Doku Umarov claimed responsibility in a video on 1 April, insisting that the operation had been carried out in retaliation for the killing of innocent civilians by Russian forces early in February. (6) Chillingly, Umarov repeated the warning issued to Russians weeks earlier, noting that “the war will come to your streets, and you will feel it on your own skins.” (7)
 
In the two weeks since the bombings some level of detail has emerged both about the perpetrators, and about the operation to which Umarov linked the attack. On April 3rd, the Russian media reported that the first Black Widow had been identified as Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, (8) the 17-year old widow of Umalat Magomedov, a Dagestani Islamist killed on 31 December 2009. A few days later, authorities named the second bomber as Mariam Sharipova, aged 29. According to the FSB, Sharipova also was a widow, but no information on her husband was released at that time. (9)

According to the Human Rights Organization Memorial, Umarov’s reference to innocent civilians pertains to the deaths of four teenagers (one aged 16, 3 aged 19) cut down by Russian commandos while they were out “picking garlic” in the woods near the Chechen town of Achkoi-Martan. Memorial alleges that the four youths were not killed in a shoot-out, but were executed in cold blood. (10) It has been claimed (albeit by Umarov), that the commandos then mutilated the bodies with their combat knives (11) As yet, this part of the story is unconfirmed.

At the time of writing, little information has emerged about Moscow’s response to the atrocities, and it seems that the lack of detail is deliberate: On April 13, FSB Director Alexandr Bortnikov told the press only that Russia’s law enforcement agencies had, via cooperative efforts, established the “masterminds” and “circle of accomplices” behind the attacks, adding that the “necessary operations and search events” to catch or kill these individuals were already underway. (12)

It has been reported that President Dmitri Medvedev signed an order one week after the bombings, establishing a “separate permanent” inter-agency anti-terrorist action group in the North Caucasus Federal District (13), tasked with the “systemic analysis of results of measures to solve terrorist crimes,” in order that the “effectiveness” of “joint activities” can be significantly raised. (14)

It is not surprising that little is being said at this juncture about military operations. But, from the language used in the Presidential order of April 1, it could be deduced that the attack on the Metro was, in part at least, made easier by serious intelligence failures, compartmentalization and lack of information sharing among Russia’s numerous security or law enforcement bodies. It is an interesting question to ask which, if any of the Siloviki will take (or be assigned) responsibility, and be forced to fall on their swords or be fired.

Source Notes:
(1) “Interior Ministry Reform To Start Soon-Nurgaliyev,” Interfax, 15 Jan 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(2) “Russia: In House MVD Anti-Corruption Office Formed, Income Reporting Required, Aleksandr Igorev Report: ‘Office of Exclusively Internal Affairs: A Main Administration for Monitoring the Income of Employees and Their Career Has Been Formed in the MVD’”, Kommersant-Vlast, 2 Apr 10; OSC Translated Text via World News Connection.
(3) “Retirement on Pension To Be Main Tool to Cut Police Staff-Nurgaliyev,” ITAR-TASS, 8 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(4) “Interior Ministry To Put Up Concept of New Police Law on Its Site,” ITAR-TASS, 7 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(5) “Twelve Killed by Twin Bombings in Russia’s Dagestan,” BBC News, 31 Mar 10 via www. news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8596084.stm. 
(6) See The ISCIP Analyst, Volume XVI, Number 11, Part 1 (1 April 2010).
(7) “My Black Widows Will Have More Blood: The Chechen Mastermind Of Last Week’s Moscow Metro Bombings Is Warning Russia That they Were Just the Start,” The Sunday Times (London), 4 Apr 10 via Lexis-Nexis.
(8) “Moscow Bomber Was 17-year Old Bride of Extremist,” The Daily Telegraph, 3 Apr 10 via Lexis-Nexis.
(9) “Russian Investigators Identify Second Suicide Bomber in Moscow Metro Blasts,” ITAR-TASS News Agency, Moscow, in Russian, 6 Apr 10; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(10) “Massacre In Woods That Brought War to Moscow: Luke Harding Reports from Ingushetia on the Murder of Four Teenagers that Inspired this Week’s Deadly Bombings,” The Guardian, 3 Apr 10 via Lexis-Nexis.
(11) Ibid.
(12) “FSB Establishes Identities of Moscow, Kizlyar Blasts Perpetrators,” ITAR-TASS, 13 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(13) “Medvedev Signs Antiterrorism Orders,” ITAR-TASS, 7 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(14) “Russia Sets Up Anti-Terror Operations Group in North Caucasus,” Interfax, 19 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.

By Fabian Adami (fabs_adami@hotmail.com)
 
~~~~~

SECURITY SERVICES

 

Update: MVD reforms

In the last five months, there has been a significant amount of political attention paid to reform of Russia’s Interior Ministry. A Presidential Decree on the subject was signed by Dmitri Medvedev in December 2009, mandating meaningful cuts in personnel and bureaucracy, and ordering the agency to make real changes in its vetting procedures in a declared attempt to weed out corruption.  Interior Minister Nurgaliyev apparently was required to report back to the President with his reform proposals by the end of March. (1) The concept of Interior Ministry reform was introduced before the suicide bombings in Moscow last month. In the aftermath of those attacks, it was legitimate to question whether changes in fact would be implemented. It now seems that reforms are to go ahead.

On April 2, Kommersant-Vlast’ reported that Nurgaliyev had signed an order creating a new “anti-corruption subdivision” within the MVD. The main roles of the “Office of the Organization of the Prevention of Corruption and Other Offences” will be to “collect, check and make public” details on the income of ministry employees, and to approve appointments and promotions. (2) Then, on April 7, the Interior Minister appeared on Militseyskaya Volna Police Radio, where he announced that personnel cuts would be achieved via the careful assessment of staff. Nurgaliyev claimed that individuals would be evaluated based on their “professional, moral and psychological qualities,” and that selected personnel would be offered retirement on full pension. (3) During the same interview, Nurgaliyev claimed that the MVD would soon place the “concept of a future law” on its website, where any citizen would be able to discuss it and make comment. The new law is to be presented to the Duma no later than  December 1, 2010. (4)

At the time of writing, there is no indication in the press that the proposed law has been published, and obviously, judgment must be withheld until it can be properly analyzed. A legitimate question that can be asked at this time is, who will monitor and have enforcement rights over the MVD’s anti-corruption division? Without outside oversight in the form of an independent police ombudsman with powers of subpoena, investigation and prosecution, it would be naïve to believe that the creation of a new bureaucratic department amounts to a real “reform.”

Moscow bombings redux
On Monday, March 29, in the middle of Moscow’s peak travel hours, two explosions occurred in the city’s Metro system. The explosions took place at two locations that clearly were selected for their political and military impact: Lubyanka and Park Kul’tury, which is located in close proximity to the Defense and Foreign Ministries. By the following morning, the fatalities listed amounted to 39, with a further 70 people injured to varying degrees. The FSB moved quickly to portray the bombings as revenge for the death in a special operation less than three weeks earlier of Said Buryatsky, a leading militant operating out of the North Caucasus. 48 hours after the Moscow attack, two further suicide bombings occurred in Kizlyar, Dagestan, in which 12 people were killed. Just as was the case in Moscow, one of the blasts was targeted at the FSB, with the first blast occurring outside the agency’s regional offices. (5)

The FSB’s aforementioned claim proved incorrect when Doku Umarov claimed responsibility in a video on 1 April, insisting that the operation had been carried out in retaliation for the killing of innocent civilians by Russian forces early in February. (6) Chillingly, Umarov repeated the warning issued to Russians weeks earlier, noting that “the war will come to your streets, and you will feel it on your own skins.” (7)

 

In the two weeks since the bombings some level of detail has emerged both about the perpetrators, and about the operation to which Umarov linked the attack. On April 3rd, the Russian media reported that the first Black Widow had been identified as Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova, (8) the 17-year old widow of Umalat Magomedov, a Dagestani Islamist killed on 31 December 2009. A few days later, authorities named the second bomber as Mariam Sharipova, aged 29. According to the FSB, Sharipova also was a widow, but no information on her husband was released at that time. (9)

According to the Human Rights Organization Memorial, Umarov’s reference to innocent civilians pertains to the deaths of four teenagers (one aged 16, 3 aged 19) cut down by Russian commandos while they were out “picking garlic” in the woods near the Chechen town of Achkoi-Martan. Memorial alleges that the four youths were not killed in a shoot-out, but were executed in cold blood. (10) It has been claimed (albeit by Umarov), that the commandos then mutilated the bodies with their combat knives (11) As yet, this part of the story is unconfirmed.

At the time of writing, little information has emerged about Moscow’s response to the atrocities, and it seems that the lack of detail is deliberate: On April 13, FSB Director Alexandr Bortnikov told the press only that Russia’s law enforcement agencies had, via cooperative efforts, established the “masterminds” and “circle of accomplices” behind the attacks, adding that the “necessary operations and search events” to catch or kill these individuals were already underway. (12)

It has been reported that President Dmitri Medvedev signed an order one week after the bombings, establishing a “separate permanent” inter-agency anti-terrorist action group in the North Caucasus Federal District (13), tasked with the “systemic analysis of results of measures to solve terrorist crimes,” in order that the “effectiveness” of “joint activities” can be significantly raised. (14)

It is not surprising that little is being said at this juncture about military operations. But, from the language used in the Presidential order of April 1, it could be deduced that the attack on the Metro was, in part at least, made easier by serious intelligence failures, compartmentalization and lack of information sharing among Russia’s numerous security or law enforcement bodies. It is an interesting question to ask which, if any of the Siloviki will take (or be assigned) responsibility, and be forced to fall on their swords or be fired.

Source Notes:
(1) “Interior Ministry Reform To Start Soon-Nurgaliyev,” Interfax, 15 Jan 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(2) “Russia: In House MVD Anti-Corruption Office Formed, Income Reporting Required, Aleksandr Igorev Report: ‘Office of Exclusively Internal Affairs: A Main Administration for Monitoring the Income of Employees and Their Career Has Been Formed in the MVD’”, Kommersant-Vlast, 2 Apr 10; OSC Translated Text via World News Connection.
(3) “Retirement on Pension To Be Main Tool to Cut Police Staff-Nurgaliyev,” ITAR-TASS, 8 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(4) “Interior Ministry To Put Up Concept of New Police Law on Its Site,” ITAR-TASS, 7 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(5) “Twelve Killed by Twin Bombings in Russia’s Dagestan,” BBC News, 31 Mar 10 via www. news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8596084.stm. 
(6) See The ISCIP Analyst, Volume XVI, Number 11, Part 1 (1 April 2010).
(7) “My Black Widows Will Have More Blood: The Chechen Mastermind Of Last Week’s Moscow Metro Bombings Is Warning Russia That they Were Just the Start,” The Sunday Times (London), 4 Apr 10 via Lexis-Nexis.
(8) “Moscow Bomber Was 17-year Old Bride of Extremist,” The Daily Telegraph, 3 Apr 10 via Lexis-Nexis.
(9) “Russian Investigators Identify Second Suicide Bomber in Moscow Metro Blasts,” ITAR-TASS News Agency, Moscow, in Russian, 6 Apr 10; BBC Monitoring via Lexis-Nexis.
(10) “Massacre In Woods That Brought War to Moscow: Luke Harding Reports from Ingushetia on the Murder of Four Teenagers that Inspired this Week’s Deadly Bombings,” The Guardian, 3 Apr 10 via Lexis-Nexis.
(11) Ibid.
(12) “FSB Establishes Identities of Moscow, Kizlyar Blasts Perpetrators,” ITAR-TASS, 13 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(13) “Medvedev Signs Antiterrorism Orders,” ITAR-TASS, 7 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.
(14) “Russia Sets Up Anti-Terror Operations Group in North Caucasus,” Interfax, 19 Apr 10; OSC Transcribed Text via World News Connection.

By Fabian Adami (fabs_adami@hotmail.com)

 

~~~~~

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