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Dzerzhinskiy Division - Name

Today this military unit, located in Balashikha near Moscow, is known to everyone as the Dzerzhinsky division. But there was a time in the history of modern Russia, when this name was randomly deleted from official documents. In 1994, the standardization of names took place and did not accidentally enter this name in the list of official documents. There was no decree and order, they simply republished the staff directory of the division, and the name disappeared.

Felix Dzerzhinsky founded the Cheka, the security apparatus notorious for orchestrating mass summary executions during the Russian Civil War and the Red Terror. Known now as "Iron Feliks," Dzerzhinsky founded the Cheka, the Bolshevik secret police force that carried out the Red Terror, a campaign of executions and torture in the years that followed the revolution of 1917. The Cheka evolved into a succession of Soviet and then Russian security services, including the NKVD, the KGB, and today's Federal Security Service, the FSB.

The Independent Special-Purpose Motorized Rifle Division F.E.Dzerzhinsky or OMSDON was formed as a Special Task unit in 1924 from a special purpose detachment (OSNAZ), established three years earlier (in 1921). In July 1926, after the sudden death of Felix Dzerzhinsky, at a meeting of personnel, it was decided to request for the assignment of his name to the division. By USSR OGPU Order No 173 dated 19 August 1926 the unit received the name "the Special Purpose Division of USSR OGPU named after F.E.Dzerzhinsky." At that time it was merged with the Tula, Vyatka and Yaroslavl Divisions of the OGPU.

On June 20, 1955 the awarded with the Order of Lenin Dzerzhinsky first motorized infantry Division of the NKVD Internal Troops was renamed to OMSDON (Detached motorized special purpose division) named after Felix Dzerzhinsky.

The tradition of assigning honorary names to military units dates back to the early 16th century, when the regiments were named after the places of their formation - Semyonovsky, Preobrazhensky, etc. Subsequently, the Russian army regiments were assigned names by the names of their commanders and chiefs. At the end of the 19th century there appeared the ritual of assigning an honorary name, which has remained unchanged until modern days. Skeptics noted that retaining Dzerzhinsky's name for a Russian division would be akin to modern Germany calling an elite divisions the "Heydrich division," after the former SS leader.

Dzerzhinsky's name and image became a highly contentious issue in modern Russia. A 15-ton sculpture of Dzerzhinsky stood in front of Lubyanka from 1958 until 1991, when it was toppled by protesters. There are periodically calls for the statue of the controversial figure to be returned, though so far they have not been successful.

Despite the fact that after the reorganization the reference of F.E.Dzerzhinsky’s name disappeared from the official name of the Division, among the people, especially the civilians of the older generation, it was still called the Dzerzhinsky Division, or simply “Dzerzhinka.”

Nikolai Zubarev, chairman of the board of veterans of the division, had more than 40 years of military service. In the division he since 1966, he served in the regiment, one of the tasks of which was the annual participation in the Victory Parade on Red Square. "I began to demand the restoration of the name of Dzerzhinsky even under Nikolai Rogozhkin (from 2004 to 2014 - Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Interior Forces - TASS comment). And I get the answer: when the monument to Dzerzhinsky is returned to the square, then we will return this title to the divisions. Then the troops were led by Viktor Zolotov. And I personally prepared 25 motions, I just signed them from different people - from the division commander, Heroes of Russia, school directors, heads of cities near Moscow, and so on..." Nikolay Zubarev, retired colonel.

In 2014, it was with the support of Viktor Zolotov, commander of the division, that the former honorary title was returned - “named after FE Dzerzhinsky”, which today the unit’s soldiers perceive as a triumph of historical justice and as a sign of respect for the feat of their predecessors. President Vladimir Putin signed a decree 23 September 2014 restoring the title "Dzerzhinsky Division" to the elite police unit that was previously named after the founder of the Bolshevik secret police.

Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, Police Colonel-General Vladimir Kolokoltsev and First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs - Chief of the MIA Internal Troops, Colonel-General Victor Zolotov, participated in the ceremony of attaching to the shaft of the battle banner of the Detached Red Banner Operative Divisionof the MIA Internal Troops, awarded with orders of Zhukov, Lenin and the October Revolution, a ribbon with the honorary name "named after F.E. Dzerzhinsky."

Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated 18 September 2014 "For heroism and courage, fortitude and bravery demonstrated by the personnel in combats to defend the Fatherland and the state interest in the context of armed conflicts, taking into account the contribution into the strengthening of the defense capabilities of the state" the unit has been returned the name of Felix E. Dzerzhinsky.

Vladimir Kolokoltsov noted that the famed division changed its name more than once, but the spirit and fortitude of its worriers have always remained unchanged: "This event will become a new landmark in the modern history of the division, which will continue being a model unit in which any serviceman of the MIA Internal Troops will feel honored to serve."

"Fighting crime and terrorism, ensuring public order, including large-scale sporting events these days - all the tasks ever assigned with this model military unit, have been unfailingly carried out in strict accordance with the law, the interests of the Russian Federation and its citizens" - said the Minister.

Today, the Minister said the division is an exemplary, efficient and in utmost degree professional unit, the personnel of which is capable of spotlessly coping with the tasks of any complexity, demonstrating courage and true heroism. Congratulating the personal of the unit, the First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation - Chief of the MIA Internal Troops, Colonel-General Viktor Zolotov said that from generation to generation the Detached Operative Division maintains the glorious tradition of veterans and multiplies its victories.

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Page last modified: 30-07-2021 18:08:09 ZULU