Saturday, July 31, 2021

Moscow City’s Use of Chechen ‘Shariat Patrols’ Threatens Basis of Russian State, Agranovsky Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 25 – Because Moscow does not have the money to fund an adequate police force, it has recently chosen to hire private protection companies consisting of Chechens to do some of the work of the militia. These have become known in the city as “shariat patrols,” and many are worried about what their use will lead to.

            One who is particularly concerned is lawyer and rights activist Dmitry Agranovsky who says that he is “certain” that this will undermine the foundations of the Russian state, especially as what Moscow city has now done is “not unique.” Other cities and regions are using Cossacks, and one can imagine the Jewish AD using Jewish units (

            Such arrangements threaten the basic requirement of a state, that it have a monopoly on the use of force. “no other armed detachments are permissible either from the point of view of law or that of morality.” And such units, especially when they are complected on ethnic lines, threaten to be used as janissaries against protesters of other nationalities.

            The problem should be viewed even more broadly, Agranovsky says. “Only law enforcement personnel must be allowed to defend the legal order.” No “failures” from the outside must be allowed to arrogate themselves this power simply because they are armed and recognized by the government.

            “The shariat patrols” in Moscow “do not have the right to fulfill the functions involved in the defense of public order. They do have the right to protect specific objects.” But giving them broader powers is something the federal government and its prosecutors must focus on before things get out of hand.

            The faster that happens, he says, “the better.” Otherwise ever more Russians will seek to get weapons to defend themselves. Some will succeed and be “privileged” by their ability to defend their interests and property, while others won’t and thus will be reduced in status still further.

            Two other observers also share their concerns about what Moscow has done. Andrey Dmitriyev, head of the unregistered Other Russia Party of E.V. Limonov, says he fears there are close contacts between the shariat patrols and some in the bureaucracy who want to use them as de facto janissaries.

            That could lead to a repetition of Kondopoga and Biryulev, he says. And he asks pointedly: Can one imagine having an exclusively ethnic Russian unit patrol the streets of the Chechen capital? Such a development would undoubtedly prove explosive; but there is no reason for that not happening next.

            And Mikhail Pashkina, head of the Moscow Inter-Regional Union of the Police and the Russian Guard, says that the readiness of the city to use such units reflects its lack of money for real police work, something that has led ever more policemen to leave their jobs for ones with better and more assured pay. That has to be addressed to prevent disaster.

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