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New Law "On police" Approved. Will Anything Change?
February 1, 2011 15:11

The new Police Law has been approved on January, 28. Experts say that it is not all about just changing the name from "militia" to "police", this is a deep reform that will touch every police structure and every officer. Nevertheless, there are too many pro and contra on this topic.

Russian State Duma approved the new law on police reform. The police reform started in Russia this summer. The draft law "On police" was placed on the Web, and everyone could offer his or her remarks or corrections. 550 amendments made in two hours have proved how "hot" was this topic. That was also a wide scale promotion — dozens of roundtable discussion held, many discussions and many suggestions.

According to The Voice of Russia, "the reform is, in the first place, aimed at defending the citizens’ rights and freedoms. Every police officer will have to give a detailed report about his or her activities. True, police officers do write reports to their bosses already, but very often this turns into a mere formality. Every police officer must be responsible for the reform to be implemented. Russian Defense Minister Rashid Nurgaliev says: "Every officer, from top to bottom, must realize that his part of the job is no less important for public security than that of any of his colleagues. The policemen’s job means high responsibility, and society is especially demanding on this."

The biggest obvious change that the reform offers is renaming the police force from "militia" to "politia." The Bolshevik government introduced its “worker and collective farm militia” in 1917 to differentiate the force from the tsarist police, a longtime enemy of the revolutionaries, according to Russia Beyond The Headlines. "Militsiya" or "militia" is used as a short official name of the civilian police in several former communist states, despite its original military connotation. The term was used in the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc and the Warsaw Pact countries, although it is still commonly used in the individual former Soviet republics and Eastern Europe.

According to the italian Il Manifesto, the new text of the law is the same to the old one, some points are even worsened. Looks like the main innovation was to change the name. The Militia of the last 90 years now transforms to Police without changings. As it was planned, Police should be under the effective control of the government and the citizens, with this aim many discussions have been held among numerous civil society organizations, including organizations of culture, science and other people who have been commenting this topic online in the Internet. As a result, nothing done and all the proposed amendments have been rejected. As says Yana Yakovleva, observer, "what was the point to discuss the details in the new law, if the old content and the old leader will stay".

Italian magazine also supposes that when the law enters into force (this will happen in March) and receives Duma's approval, everything will be worse as there will be no in-between rules to ensure the gradual introduction of the reform. The law prohibiting women beating will be canceled, breaking into private house without permission will be prohibited, the rules to ignore the orders of superiors that violates the law will be revoked. The ban on force usage in the financial business quarrels will be canceled. In addition, this cases happen in Russia very often, generally they end in favor of entrepreneurs or shareholders. Also there are too many cases when armed Militia have been solving the problem by simply removing of one of the contenders. It is also interesting to note that a March survey by the Levada Center found that about 70 percent of Russians do not trust the police.

There are no mechanisms that would improve the system and reduce the corruption left in the country. There are no control system within police itself, there is no possibility of judge of other institutions interference, according to Il Manifesto. The magazine points, that it's a pity to see that all the Russians supposing that nothing will change, were right.

Ksenia Dzha

Tags: Russian laws     

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