Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs: is a Reboot Inevitable?
The miracle which the Kremlin was apparently hoping for never happened: changing the name from “militia” to “police” has not led to a qualitative change in the Ministry’s personnel, while qualifying certification has become a convenient tool for bosses to settle scores with obstinate subordinates.
The position of Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev (ex-FSB and one of the closest associates of Nikolai Patrushev from the “Karelian clan,” already half-forgotten by political analysts) appeared to be somewhat weakened for a long time after the events of 2007-2008, during the so-called “war of the intelligence services”.
As a result, Vladimir Putin destroyed the “power tower”: the conflicting parties (Viktor Cherkessov, the then head of the Federal Drug Control Service, went into confrontation with the then director of the FSB Nikolai Patrushev and Viktor Ivanov, the Kremlin’s human resources manager) were taken to the opposite corners of the ring, suffering significant staff losses.
Mr. Nurgaliyev, who headed the Interior Ministry after the “political appointee” Boris Gryzlov, not only managed to keep his ministerial post, but also succeeded in positioning himself as an independent political unit. It was he who, contrary to expectations, subsequently led the militia reform and reported on the “qualitative change” in the Ministry after its completion.
In fact, what happened can be categorized like this:
- a section of the generals lost their positions in the Ministry during re-certification;
- Dmitry Medvedev’s team was strengthened, a number of his associates occupying key positions in the Ministry (including Deputy Minister Sergei Gerasimov and economic crime fighter Denis Sugrobov);
- the police tried to present a more friendly face, while at the same time pocketing salary increases.
Mr. Nurgaliyev reported these exact changes, having declared a complete rejuvenation of the Ministry and eradication of corruption within it. The Minister’s starry-eyed idealism provoked a wry smile not only from cynics, but also from the ordinary citizens who have to deal with the “rejuvenated” policemen.
The problem is that the supreme power, having received the strong support of the population in the last presidential election, needs real changes in the work of the Ministry. Efforts to disengage from the critical situation could blow it wide open. Any attempt to replace Mr. Nurgaliyev with someone from the “militia” will be received very negatively by the public, whose opinion the Kremlin has been taking into consideration for some time now.
Given the change in personnel alignment on the upper floors of the Ministry (the departures of Alexei Anichin, Mikhail Sukhodolsky, etc.) and the future prime ministerial prospects of Dmitry Medvedev, it can be assumed that Mr. Nurgaliyev can be replaced by Deputy Minister Sergei Gerasimov, who did in fact try to reform the Ministry. Recently he has received president’s personal support, whose team he is said to belong to, but this proved insufficient.
As a result, Mr. Gerasimov could be given the chance to really improve the state of affairs in the Ministry of the Interior, because he has experience in dealing with generals and their anger, which most likely appeared because of their stubbornness and unwillingness to tear down the corporation so carefully built up to extract cash and deprive people of their property. According to sources, Vladimir Vasilyev, State Duma deputy and a member of the United Russia party, is considered another candidate for the ministerial post. There are also other candidates from within the depths of the Ministry.
Alexei Mukhin is President of the Center for Political Information.
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.