Monday, October 21, 2019

New Law Gives Russian Police Warning Powers like Those KGB Employed in Soviet Times

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 18 – Two days ago, Vladimir Putin signed a  new law that gives the police the right to warn citizens about the impermissibility of certain behavior that could lead to criminal actions, a power that recalls that which the KGB had in Soviet times and was part of “Soviet totalitarian culture,” Mikhail Zolotonosov says.

            The Gorod-812 portal journalist argues that “in order to understand more deeply the meaning of this legal innovation, one must turn to the genesis, naturally hidden in the recent Soviet past which in our conditions is practically immortal” and has become more present in the last decade (

                The St. Petersburg analyst traces the origins of the current law t the December 25, 1972, decree of the presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet which gave the organs of state security the power to warn people that certain actions they were engaged in, while not illegal, were against the wishes of the KGB and the CPSU and could ultimately lead to crimes. 

            “Formally,” Zolotonosov says, “the decree was not secret” but it was not supposed to be published. Only someone who was issued a warning by the KGB could have been shown it. For example, if a Soviet citizen met with Americans and didn’t report it, that was not strictly illegal but it was a kind of behavior the regime did not approve of.

            That opened the way to the kind of official pressure which allowed the authorities to go far beyond existing laws – the list of possible subjects included a final one that opened the way to all subjects -- to compel Soviet citizens to behave as the authorities wanted them to and did not give those citizens any recourse for complaints to the courts, the journalist says.

            What is disturbing now, Zolotonosov says, is that the new law Putin has signed has almost exactly the same content and carries with it the risk of exactly the same consequences as the original, undermining the rule of law and opening the way to what  can only be described as a new totalitarianism. 

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