Russian Internal Troops Reportedly Being Prepared for Mass Disorders
by Paul Goble

On-going series: Crisis in the Caucasus - 2008
The Russian / Georgian Conflict and Its Impact on Azerbaijan

Window on Eurasia: Original Blog Article

Vienna, October 29 - The Russian government reportedly has ordered the country's Special Forces to be on the alert for mass disorders as a result of the impact of the financial crisis, according to several opposition websites. And while these reports may not in fact be true, they are certain to strike many Russians as entirely plausible and thus exacerbate the situation.

Yesterday, the xenophobic Movement Against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) reported what it said was a declaration from a source in the Russian special services about the government's plans in the event of mass disorders arising from popular anger about the consequences in Russia of the financial crisis

The anonymous source reportedly said that the Internal Troops of the Ministry of the Interior were receiving "special psychological-physiological training under the direction of psychologists and with the participation of psychoanalysts" in order to be ready to fire on the citizens of their own country.

The purpose of this special militia training, the source said, is to inculcate in the internal troops "the necessity of fulfilling any task at any price," including the suppression of "mass disorders [among the population of the Russian Federation] arising from the deteriorating social-economic situation" there.

Such training, the source told DPNI, creates the conditions for "a massive bloodletting," something that could make the situation in the country as a whole worse and lead to "the secession of certain republics, krays, and oblasts" and even to "foreign military intervention to defend the civilian population of Russia from genocide by the authorities."

"The citizens of Russia ought to know about this," the anonymous security agency source said. And "we ask all who receive this information to distribute it as widely as possible." So far, only opposition sites have done so ­ see - but that will be more than enough to exacerbate tensions at present.

The mainstream media has so far ignored reporting such things, but at least a few of them are carrying stories which suggest that the situation in the country is becoming dangerous. "Noviye izvestiya," for example, today carried a story about the large number of Russians who now carry weapons for self-defense

According to the paper, one of every five Russians now carries a gun, a knife or other means of self-defense. Not an enormous percentage compared to many other countries, but a sufficient share to disturb Russians long accustomed to a situation in which few people have such weaponry at their disposal.

Many of these weapons, the paper says, are not lethal, but that may not be enough to calm what is already an overheated situation. Indeed, it is almost certain to cause even more people to seek to arm themselves in order to defend against those who already have weapons, including the authorities.

According to experts cited by the paper, "the acquisition of means of self-defense is justified," given the number of attacks that Russian citizens have been subjected to by those who already have such weapons. Indeed, the experts said, such weapons may be the only reliable protection most Russian have in many circumstances.

The possession of such weapons, of course, does not mean that Russian would direct them at the authorities, but if as the anonymous source quoted above says the authorities are prepared to use violence any manifestation of popular anger, then the possibility that some of those being suppressed have weapons increases the risk of violence.

Indeed, the widespread possession of such weapons ­ and the statistics cited by the paper suggest that nearly 30 million Russians have them ­ by itself acquires the potential for causing violence, something that makes the reports of the actions of officials to respond both credible and thus even more frightening.

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