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Putin Creates National Guard Force

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on the creation of a National Guard.

Putin signed the law on July 3, officially creating the new force on the basis of the former Interior Ministry troops.

According to the law, the new force will be charged with enforcing emergency-situation regimes, combating terrorism, defending Russian territory, and protecting state facilities and assets.

Critics, however, say the force has been created to combat dissent as Russia holds legislative and presidential elections in the coming months. Under the law, the National Guard has the authority to suppress uprisings in populated areas and to use force in the event of an armed attack on state facilities or when faced with the threat of terrorism.

The National Guard is authorized to use nonlethal force to suppress mass riots, to prevent disruption of traffic, to repress crimes, or to repel attacks against guardsmen. The force is also authorized to detain individuals and enter homes at its discretion.

The mass media is barred from reporting on the locations of National Guard bases or deployments.

Based on reporting by Interfax and New Times