April 22, 2018

Putin creates new National Guard in Russia ‘to fight terrorism’

Mr Putin made the announcement alongside the new head of the National Guard, Viktor Zolotov (right)

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced the creation of a new National Guard, which he said would fight terrorism and organised crime.

The force will be formed of interior ministry troops and led by Mr Putin’s former bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov, who will report directly to the president.

Mr Putin’s spokesman said the force could be used to maintain public order.

But Dmitry Peskov denied its creation was linked to September’s election. Some critics say Mr Putin fears unrest.

Mr Putin made the announcement during a meeting with key security officials at the Kremlin.

“The decisions have been taken, we are creating a new federal body of executive power,” he said.

He also announced that Russia’s drug control agency and federal migration service would become part of the interior ministry’s remit.

Mr Putin warned in February that Russia’s “foes abroad” were preparing to interfere with the 18 September election, and told the country’s security services that such attempts must be thwarted.

Moscow has long accused the West of trying to influence Russian elections through encouraging mass protests – a claim denied by US and European officials.

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