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Ministry of Internal Affairs (Soviet Union)

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Ministry of Internal Affairs (Soviet Union)

"MVD" redirects here. For other uses, see MVD (disambiguation).

Ministry of Internal Affairs
Министерство внутренних дел Российской Федерации
Ministry emblem
Flag of the Ministry of the Interior
Agency overview
Formed March 1802
Preceding Agency Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union (1946–1991)
Jurisdiction President of Russia

Zhitnaya St. 16, Moscow, Russia
Coordinates: 55°43′51″N 37°36′50″E / 55.73083°N 37.61389°E / 55.73083; 37.61389

Employees about 1,000,000
Annual budget 1192.2 billion rouble (FY 2011)[1]
Minister responsible Vladimir Kolokoltsev
Child agency Police of Russia, Internal Troops

The Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation (MOI, Russian: Министерство внутренних дел, МВД, Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del, MVD) is the interior ministry of Russia. Its predecessor was founded in 1802 by Alexander I in Imperial Russia. The Ministry is headquartered in Moscow.

The current Minister of Internal Affairs is Lieutenant-General of Police Vladimir Kolokoltsev, who was the Moscow Police Commissioner between 2009 and 2012.


Russian Empire

Created by Alexander I on 28 March 1802 in the process of government reforms to replace the aging collegia of Peter the Great, the MVD was one of the most powerful governmental bodies of the Empire, responsible for the police forces and Internal Guards and the supervision of gubernial administrations. Its initial responsibilities also included penitentiaries, firefighting, state enterprises, the state postal system, state property, construction, roads, medicine, clergy, natural resources, and nobility; most of them were transferred to other ministries and government bodies by the mid-19th century.


As the central government began to further partition the countryside, the ispravniks were distributed among the sections.[2] Serving under them in their principal localities were commissaries (stanovoi pristav). Ispravniki and stanovoi alike were armed with broad and obscurely-defined powers, which, combined with the fact that they were for the most part illiterate and wholly ignorant of the law, formed crushing forces of oppression. Towards the end of the reign of Alexander II, the government, in order to preserve order in the country districts, also created a special class of mounted rural policemen (uryadniks, from uriad, order), who, in a time without habeas corpus, were armed with power to arrest all suspects on the spot. These uryadniks rapidly became the terror of the countryside. Finally, in the towns of the rural countryside, every house was provided with a "guard dog" of sorts, in the form of a porter (dvornik), who was charged with the duty of reporting the presence of any suspicious characters or anything of interest to the police.

Secret police

In addition to the above there was also the secret police, in direct subordination to the ministry of the interior, of which the principal function is the discovery, prevention and extirpation of political sedition. Its most famous development was the so-called Third Section (of the imperial chancery) instituted by the emperor Nicholas I in 1826. This was entirely independent of the ordinary police, but was associated with the previously existing Special Corps of Gendarmes, whose chief was placed at its head. Its object had originally been to keep the emperor in close touch with all the branches of the administration and to bring to his notice any abuses and irregularities, and for this purpose its chief was in constant personal intercourse with the sovereign.

Following the growth of the revolutionary movement and assassination of Tsar Alexander II, the Department of State Police inherited the secret police functions of the dismissed Third Section and transferred the most capable Gendarmes to the Okhrana. In 1896 the powers of the minister were extended at the expense of those of the under-secretary, who remained only at the head of the corps of gendarmes; but by a law of 24 September 1904 this was again reversed, and the under-secretary was again placed at the head of all the police with the title of undersecretary for the administration of the police.

By World War I, the Department had spawned a counter-intelligence section. After the February Revolution of 1917, the Gendarmes and the Okhrana were disbanded as anti-revolutionary.

Soviet era

Having won the October Revolution, the Bolsheviks disbanded the tsarist police forces and formed all-proletarian Workers' and Peasants' Militsiya under NKVD of the Russian SFSR. After establishing USSR there was no Soviet (federal) NKVD until 1934.

In March 1946, all of the People's Commissariats (NK) were redesignated as Ministries (M). The NKVD was renamed the MVD of the USSR, along with its former subordinate, the NKGB which became the MGB of the USSR. The NKVDs of Union Republics also became Ministries of Internal Affairs subordinate to MVD of the USSR.

Secret police became a part of MVD after Lavrenty Beria merged the MGB into the MVD in March 1953. Within a year Beria's downfall caused the MVD to be split up again; after that, the MVD retained its "internal security" (police) functions, while the new KGB took on "state security" (secret police) functions.

In his efforts to fight bureaucracy and maintain 'Leninist principles', Nikita Khrushchev, as the Premier of the Union, called for the dismissal of the All-Union MVD. The Ministry ceased to exist in January 1960 and its functions were transferred to the respective Republican Ministries. The MVD of the Russian SFSR was renamed the Ministry for Securing the Public Order in 1962.

Leonid Brezhnev again recreated the All-Union Ministry for Securing the Public Order in July 1966 and later assigned Nikolai Shchelokov as Minister; the RSFSR Ministry was disbanded for the second time, the first being at the creation of the NKVD of the Soviet Union. The MVD regained its original title in 1968.

Another role of the reformed MVD was to combat economic crimes, that is to suppress private business which was largely prohibited by socialist law. This fight was never successful due to the pervasive nature of the black market.

Leonid Brezhnev's friendship with Minister Shchelokov, and his son-in-law’s position in the ministry, made investigation of corruption and inefficiency in the MVD impossible. Brezhnev’s death in 1982 brought about the downfall of both men. Shchelokov was replaced by the KGB Chairman Vitaliy Vasilevich Fedorchuk, transferred to the MVD to clean it up. He was assisted by another KGB official, Vasiliy Yakovlevich Lezhepekov, put in charge of MVD personnel. The Central Committee of the CPSU decided that 150 KGB officials were to reinforce the ministry but the implementation of the decision was difficult as the “volunteered” officers resisted the transfer. Brutal and narrow minded, Fedorchuk fired 160,000 MVD employees,[3] intimidated the rest but failed to conduct the necessary fundamental reforms. The purges resulted in severe staff shortages. In the early 1980s, 25,000 people graduated annually from all the MVD schools. The MVD officials assessed that the schools would have to train the same number of people for six years to fill the gap, and that without counting retirements, natural attrition and the experience of those dismissed.[4]

Another wave of reforms came in 1988 with the arrival at the helm of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Vadim Bakatin, one of Mikahil Gorbachev’s closest allies. Gorbachev's policies resulted in gradual and general liberalisation but also unleashed violent ethnic clashes. On 28 July, 1988 the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree "On duties and rights of the Internal Troops of the USSR MVD when safeguarding public order", clarifying its role in the cracking USSR.[5]

On 21 March 1989 The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR decided to take the Internal Troops out of the Armed Forces[6] and give them to the Interior Ministry. This would keep the Armed Forces out of internal conflicts but would invariably reduce their claim to the rapidly shrinking budget. The MVD found itself in a position in which it had more responsibilities but could expect more funds and yet had to compete for a shrinking pool of conscripts.

On 6 October 1989, before Boris Yeltsin began to a play pivotal role in Russia, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a decree “On establishing The Union-Republican Ministry of Internal Affairs of the RSFSR".[7] It was to be the first purely Russian power structure. In December 1990 Mikhail Gorbachev decided to take the chaotic and corrupt USSR MVD in hand and nominated Boris Pugo, a party apparatchik and a professional KGB officer, as Minister of Internal Affairs of the USSR.

Russian Federation

The Russian MVD was recreated as the MVD of the Russian SFSR in 1990, following the restoration of the republican Council of Ministers and Supreme Soviet, and remained when Russia gained independence from the Soviet Union. It currently controls the politsiya (formerly militsiya), the Main Directorate for Road Traffic Safety, and the Internal Troops. Since the disbanding of the Tax Police, it also investigates economic crimes.

The long-time additional duties of the Imperial MVD and NKVD, such as the Firefighting Service and Prisons Service, were recently moved to the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Justice respectively. The last reorganization abolished Main Directorates inherited from the NKVD in favour of Departments. The current minister of internal affairs in Russia is Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

On 12 February 1993 President Yeltsin issued a presidential decree “On Public Order Militia in the Russian Federation” increasing the number of local militia by 84,500.[8] At the beginning of 1994 the local militia had 442,000 people, 27% short of their full complement. Other militia structures, including the 33 republican and regional forces, were 70% complemented. The ambitious development programme for the ministry was not matched by budgetary allocations. In June 1993 the Minister of Internal Affairs complained personally to Yeltsin that his subordinates were not paid in full the previous month.

1993 Constitutional crisis

Yeltsin’s early purges of the MVD paid dividends in October 1993 when in spite of many "defections" to the opposition, the two most important people in the ministry, Minister of Internal Affairs Viktor Yerin and the Commander of Internal Troops Anatoliy Kulikov, stood by him to the victorious end of his stand-off with the Supreme Soviet. Yerin began his career in 1960 in Tatarstan but in the early 1980s volunteered for service in Afghanistan where he was one of the organizers of the MVD special forces team “Kobalt”. He was a Deputy Minister of Interior in Armenia during the difficult years 1988-1992. The 1993 events were a major test for the Moscow MVD bodies. On 1 September 1993 Yeltsin promoted Yerin to Army General, a rank equal to that of the Minister of Defence Grachev. On 23 September, about 20,000 people in 27 Russian cities took part in anti-Yeltsin demonstrations. Two days later there were 14 meetings in 11 cities, though the average number of participants in each meeting did not exceed 100. Yerin allocated 10,000-12,000 militiamen and 2,000-3,000 internal troops to keep the situation under control.

The next day he brought into Moscow 4,000 militiamen in addition to the 3,300 already on the streets of the city. By 30 September the White House was surrounded by 4,000 militiamen, 1,700 soldiers and 500 cadets.[9] During the most difficult moments of the coup, at the beginning of October, Yerin, in contrast with Minister of Defence Pavel Grachev, acted decisively and was awarded the highest Russian Military Order, Hero of the Russian Federation.

From Kulikov to Rushyalo

At the beginning of July 1995, the hero of the 1993 coup, Viktor Yerin was transferred to the Foreign Intelligence Service, after the bungled anti-terrorist operation in Budennovsk. He was replaced by Colonel-General Anatoly Kulikov, Commander of the MVD Internal Troops. Kulikov was expected to clean up corruption in the MVD and improve discipline in the ministry. With the appointment of Kulikov as Minister the rest of the ministry was rapidly militarized. The aims of this reform were to make it capable of protecting the political leadership more effectively, improving their capabilities as a combat force able to fight well organised and well armed groups in the Russian Federation and purging corrupt officers, Non-commissioned officers and contract soldiers.[10] The losers were the crime fighting elements of the ministry. The top militia officials were not invited to some of the Ministerial meetings and only the voices of discontent from the Presidential security service stopped Kulikov from militarising of the Russian traffic police.[11] General Kulikov lost his position in March 1998 when President Boris Yeltsin dismissed the government of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Kulikov was not offered another high profile, important job because his reforms of the MVD were not successful.[12]


Interior ministers
Minister Start year End year
Viktor Yerin 1992 1995
Anatoly Kulikov 1995 1998
Sergei Stepashin 1998 1999
Vladimir Rushailo 1999 2001
Boris Gryzlov 2001 2003
Rashid Nurgaliyev 2004 2012
Vladimir Kolokoltsev 2012

See also



Further reading

  • Ronald Hingley, The Russian Secret Police, Muscovite, Imperial Russian and Soviet. Political Security Operations, 1565–1970
  • Dominic Lieven (ed.), The Cambridge History of Russia, Volume II: Imperial Russia, 1689–1917, Cambridge University Press (2006), ISBN 978-0-521-81529-1.

External links

  • Ministry of the Interior of Russia English official homepage
  • Ministry of the Interior of Russia official homepage


  • Timeline of MVD, 1801-1997
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