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Russian Minister Slams Leading Think Tank's Proposals To Reform Security Bodies

In its latest report, titled "Securing the Future. Strategy 2012", the Moscow-based Institute of Contemporary Development (Insor) has proposed radical changes to Russian law-enforcement and security bodies, including the abolition of the Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB). Head of Insor Igor Yurgens described the report as a "liberal manifesto", adding that he hoped Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev would adopt it for a campaign for a second term in office. However, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, who is also deputy secretary of the presidium of the One Russia party's general council for creativity and interaction with political clubs, called the report a "provocation". Shuvalov said the report was not in line with the position of Medvedev himself. Details of Insor's proposals and Shuvalov's reaction to them were reported by Russian news agencies Interfax and RIA Novosti on 16 March.FSB Headquarters

Insor proposes massive restructuring of Russian law-enforcement system

The full version of "Securing the Future. Strategy 2012" was published on 16 March, Interfax said. It contains a proposal to abolish the Interior Ministry, splitting it into several institutions: bodies subordinated to the federal centre, regional police and municipal police. "The main successor to the Interior Ministry at the federal level should be a federal criminal police service," the report says, the main tasks of which would be to fight serious violent and mercenary crimes.

Insor proposes the creation of municipal bodies to ensure public order that would only be subordinate to the local community, Interfax added. Such bodies would be entirely funded by local budget money. "The principle of the population choosing the heads of the municipal police in each settlement, and their regular reporting back to residents, would be introduced," the report says, as quoted by Interfax.

It continues: "Simultaneously, regional police services should be created in the constituent parts of the Russian Federation, which are only subordinate to the authorities in the given constituent part of the Russian Federation." The regional police would be responsible for preventing, uncovering and investigating moderately serious violent and mercenary crimes.

"A system of indicators for assessing police activity should play a big role. One of the main indicators here should be the public's assessment of the police services," the Insor report says.

Insor suggests that the OMON special-purpose police and the SOBR special rapid-reaction force should be reformed to become the basis for units of the federal criminal police service. "The Internal Troops of the Interior Ministry would be turned into a national guard subordinate to the Russian president," the report says. The national guard would be tasked with preventing major terrorist attacks.

The report also proposes replacing the Interior Ministry's units for the fight against economic crimes with a new federal financial police service, which would have branches across the country.

According to Insor's proposals, the FSB would be dissolved and a new federal counter-intelligence service would be formed in its place to ensure information security and protect state secrets. "Meanwhile, territorial directorates of the FSB would be closed. Instead of them, the federal counter-intelligence service would provide counter-intelligence cover for specific facilities: industrial enterprises and science and research institutes," the report says. Insor adds that this new federal service should not have its own special forces (Spetsnaz) or military ranks.

Other proposals made by Insor include the creation of a federal service for the defence of the constitution, and removing the presidential security service from the Federal Bodyguard Service; the new de-militarized Federal Bodyguard Service would acquire the functions of protecting victims and witnesses; the prosecutor's office would become a "normal civilian legal body". The report also advocates an army formed on a volunteer basis.

Shuvalov attacks Insor's proposals

"In my view, the report's authors have launched an ill-considered provocation, they are not proposing a serious discussion of the problem," Shuvalov said, as quoted by RIA Novosti. "The theses put forward by Insor as an election campaign programme for Dmitriy Anatolyevich Medvedev do not correlate well with the position of the president himself," Shuvalov added.

"It (the Insor report) prescribes a model for Russia's future in quite a lot of detail, but pragmatism and, essentially, the creation of a consumer society are the cornerstones. For many reasons, the proposed scenario is not permissible for our country," Shuvalov said. He described it as an "artificial model" bearing no relation to real life, adding that it failed to take into account the political processes under way in Russia.

"Insor talks about Russia without a past, which means without a future either," Shuvalov said.

However, Shuvalov added that he welcomed any discussion of the development of democracy in Russia. "It is clear that without a clear definition of the democratic foundations of society and the state, there is no point talking about the objectives of modernization," he added, as reported by RIA Novosti.

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