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Militsiya

From Academic Kids

Militsiya (Russian: мили́ция; Ukrainian: міліція; Romanian: Miliţia; literally "Militia") was the generic name for the police in the Soviet Union and a few other Communist countries. It is now used as a short official name of the police in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and some other post-Soviet states. Due to the history of the term and the distinctive local features, the militsiya should be considered a special regional kind of policing system, not just a translation of the English "police". Militsiya forces in all post-Soviet countries share similar traditions, tactics and methods, although the differences are increasing over time.

Contents

Name and status

The name originates from early Soviet history, when the Bolsheviks intended to associate their new law enforcement authority with the self-organization of the people and to distinguish it from the "bourgeois class-oriented police". Originally militsiya was the official name: the Workers' and Peasants' Militsiya was created in 1917. Eventually it was replaced by Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD in Russian, or MVS in Ukrainian), which is now the official full name for the militsiya forces in the respective countries. Its regional branches are officially called Departments of Internal Affairs—city department of internal affairs, raion department of internal affairs, oblast department of internal affairs, etc. The Russian term for a regional department was "ОВД", "Отдел/Отделение внутренних дел", later renamed to "УВД"—"Управление внутренних дел".

Functionally, Ministries of Internal Affairs are mostly police agencies. Their functions and organization differ significantly from similarly named departments in Western countries, which are usually civil executive bodies headed by politicians and responsible for many other tasks as well as the supervision of law enforcement. Soviet and successor MVDs are usually headed by a militsiya general and predominantly consist of service personnel, with civil employees only filling auxiliary posts. Although such ministers are members of the respective country's cabinet, they usually do not report to the prime minister and parliament, but only to the president. Local departments are subordinate to their national ministry and are not controlled by local government organisations (although they do formally report to them).

Internal affairs units within the militsiya itself are usually called "internal security" departments.

The official names of particular militsiya bodies and services in post-Soviet countries are usually very complicated, hence the use of the short term militsiya. Laws usually refer to police just as militsiya.

The short term for a police officer (regardless of gender) is militsioner (Russian: милиционер, Ukrainian: міліціонер). Slang terms for the militsioner include ment (plural: menty, менты) and musor (plural: musora, мусора). Although the latter word is offensive (it literally means "trash" or "garbage"), it originated from an acronym for the Moscow Criminal Investigations Department (МУС, Московский уголовный сыск) in Imperial Russia. Ment is a close equivalent to the English slang term "cop".

General overview

The organizational structure, methods and traditions of the militsiya differ significantly from those customary in the West. Militsiya officers rank from sergeant (which is actually the lowest rank) to major general. Detectives (Russian: operativnik) hold a minimum rank of lieutenant. The militsiya of an oblast (or other equivalent subnational entity) is usually headed by a general. The rank name is suffixed with of militsiya (e.g. major of militsiya for a major).

Militsiya bodies are divided into functional departments, such as traffic police. Organized crime detectives form highly-independent squads inside regional militsiya. Some units may have the distinctive names (like OMON) which are more specific than militsiya or militsioner.

Militsiya personnel carry firearms. However, their usage is strictly limited so shooting cases are relatively rare in comparison to countries such as the United States. Militsioners are not permitted to carry their weapons when they are off duty.

Unlike in some other countries' police agencies, militsioners are not assigned permanent partners, but work alone or within larger groups. Neither street patrols nor detectives are allowed to drive police vehicles themselves, so a specialist driver (either a serviceman or a civil employee) is assigned to each car and is also in charge of its maintenance.

Although women constitute a significant proportion of militsiya staff, they are usually not permitted to fill positions which carry a risk (such as patrolman, guard, or detective), but are allowed to carry firearms for self-defense. Instead, they are widely represented among investigators, juvenile crime inspectors, clerks, etc. However, limited attempts are being made to appoint women as traffic officers and operativniks.

Non-police services of the MVD

It should be noted that Soviet/post-Soviet Ministries of Internal Affairs include (or included) not only police-like departments, but also:

These non-police services should be distinguished from the militsiya itself. Their members have always used different generic names and specific ranks (e.g. Major of the Internal Service, rather than Major of Militsiya).

Militsiya in the Russian Federation

Throughout the first half of the 1990s, the Russian militsiya functioned with minimal funding, equipment, and support from the legal system. The inadequacy of the force became particularly apparent during the wave of organized crime that began sweeping Russia after the beginning of perestroika. Many highly qualified individuals moved from the militsiya into better-paying jobs in the field of private security, which has expanded to meet the demands of companies needing protection, while others joined the organized crime itself. Frequent taking of bribes among the remaining members of the militsiya has damaged the force's public credibility. Numerous revelations of participation by militsiya personnel in murders, prostitution rings, information peddling, and tolerance of criminal acts have created a general public perception that all militsioners are at least taking bribes. Bribery of officers to avoid penalty for traffic violations and petty crimes is a routine and expected occurrence, as well as tortures and abusing of suspects in the custody.

In a 1995 poll of the public, only 5 per cent of respondents expressed confidence in the ability of the militsiya to deal with crime in their city. Human rights organizations have accused the Moscow militsiya of racism in singling out non-Slavic individuals (especially immigrants from Russia's Caucasus republics), physical attacks, unjustified detention, and other rights violations. In 1995 Minister of Internal Affairs Anatoliy Kulikov conducted a high-profile "Clean Hands Campaign" to purge the MVD of corrupt elements. In its first year, this limited operation caught several highly placed MVD officials collecting bribes, indicating a high level of corruption throughout the agency. According to experts, the main causes of corruption are insufficient funding to train and equip personnel and pay them adequate wages, poor work discipline, lack of accountability, and fear of reprisals from organized criminals.

Militsiya in Ukraine

The militsiya in Ukraine is officially called the MVS (Ukrainian: Міністерство внутрішніх справ; Ministerstvo Vnutrishnikh Sprav).

See also

External links

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