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Russia: New Law on Police

(Feb. 9, 2011) On February 7, 2011, the President of the Russian Federation signed the new Federal Law on Police. The Law, which was proposed by the President last year, will enter into force on March 1, 2011. (Federal Law on Police [in Russian], ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA (official publication) (Feb. 8, 2011), In a televised statement, the President said that the new Law will change the whole nature of Russian law enforcement, because it “defines status, rights, and obligations of police officers, frees police from redundant and unusual functions, and affirms partner relations between police and society.” (Medvedev Signed the Law on Police [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Feb. 7, 2011),

The Law was widely discussed in the country, and for the first time in the history of independent Russia, public recommendations regarding the content of the bill were sought by the legislators. Despite that, observers do not find many novel provisions in this act. The Chairman of the State Duma's Security Committee, which was responsible for drafting the Law, stated that there will be no comprehensive reform of the current militia following the Law's passage. He said that police will not receive new rights or authority, because the Law simply includes the same norms that were previously included in various regulatory acts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. (Marina Ozerova, Police Law Was Passed in the Dark [in Russian], MOSKOVSKII KOMSOMOLETS (Jan. 29, 2011),
.) The Chairman said that the purpose of the new Law “is not just to protect society from bad cops but rather to give police officers the full arsenal of tools for the protection of public rights and interests.” (Id.)

It appears that the main novelty of the Law is the renaming of the law enforcement force from the current “militia” to “police.” While the new Law specifies that as of March 1, 2011, new police officers will be required to introduce themselves as police when interacting with citizens and to have name tags displayed on a newly designed uniform, the nature of the force remains the same. For increased public control, the Law provides for the regular publication of surveys to monitor public opinion on police activities and the creation of regional councils comprised of representatives of various public organizations to advise police leaders. The procedure for the appointment of these councils will be determined by the Russian Federation President. (State Duma Passed the Law on Police [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Jan. 28, 2011),

Among other additions to the Law are provisions that allow the police to use weapons to break door locks or to apply physical force against women, except those who are noticeably pregnant, and the requirement for a police officer to make one telephone call to the relatives of a detained person to report his or her whereabouts if so requested by the detainee. Most of the other provisions just slightly change the wording of the current legislation. (Id.)

Rules on the conduct of police services are not defined by this Law and will be outlined in ministerial acts, to be adopted in future. However, the Law states that the monthly salary of a police officer will be no less than the equivalent of US$1,500. Police officers will be eligible for free use of public transportation, subsidized housing, medical benefits, and bonuses for catching criminals. (Yulia Kalinina, Wallpaper for Police Officers [in Russian], MOSKOVSKII KOMSOMOLETS (Feb. 3, 2011),

Some commentators believe that except for a few, decorative measures, the new Law does not make substantial changes. A popular Russian journalist, Yulia Kalinina, wrote that “the current system of internal affairs is sick because the entire state is sick, and it cannot be reformed separately from the reform of the whole federal government.” (Id.)