In its usual top-down fashion, the Russian government recently merged the Federal Drug Control Service and the Federal Migration Service into the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Perhaps the most alarming point of all the Interior Ministry changes is the creation of the National Guard, a specialized armed force that will operate under the command of President Vladimir Putin’s former bodyguard and report to the president. The BBC reports that the National Guard is ostensibly designed to combat terrorism and organized crime, but presidential spokesperson Dmitry Peskov also mentioned that it could be used to “maintain public order.” This could prove especially useful to the regime in influencing the outcome of parliamentary elections this autumn.
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Sarah Calderone is an independent researcher on Russian and Eurasian Affairs. She is a Master of International Affairs candidate at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and completed a Fulbright research grant in Ekaterinburg, Russia, where she studied adaptation and integration efforts for migrants from former Soviet states.