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Dzerzhinskiy Division
ODON [Separate Special Purpose Division]

Motto: “Any time, any place – any task!”

Regalia: the orders of Lenin, the October Revolution, the Red Banner.

Mascot: Panther – a symbol of bravery, courage and chivalry.

The Division is fully motorized and mobile. It is in constant combat readiness. Within a short time its units can be transferred by air to anywhere in Russia to perform unexpected tasks. The objectives of the Division are to protect the public order in Moscow and the Moscow Region, to fight against terrorism and extremism, in wartime – to protect important public objects.

Felix Dzerzhinsky founded the Cheka, a 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.

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 our 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.

The division was actively used in fighting banditry in the 1930s, and fought in the 1939 war against Finland. During the Great Patriotic War, various elements the Dzerzhinsky Division were in patrol service in Moscow, guarded governmental communications and fought on Western and Volkhov fronts. Warriors of the Dzerzhinsky Division guarded important government objects in Moscow, fought bandits and Basmachi in Central Asia, participated in the battles with the Finns. During the Great Patriotic War, they fought against the Nazi invaders in the outskirts of Moscow, in the West and Volkhov fronts. Warriors of the Dzerzhinsky Division carried patrol and Inspection Service in the capital itself. During the war, 12 servicemen of the division were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

The soldiers and officers of the Division participated in the parade on Red Square on November 7, 1941. In 1944, he escorted through the streets of Moscow of 57 thousand prisoners of the Nazis. Participated in the protection of the Yalta Conference, the Allied Powers - the USSR, the USA, the UK, as well as the Potsdam Conference of Heads of Government of the same State. On June 24, 1945 during the Victory Day parade, Division regiments marched through Red Square and laid the banners of Nazi Germany at the foot of the mausoleum.

After the war the warriors of the unit were actively involved in the protection of public order and public safety in the city of Moscow. 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.

In the late 1980s - early 1990s, the personnel of the division performed special tasks in the areas of inter-ethnic conflicts in Nagorny-Karabakh, Azerbaijan, North Ossetia and Ingushetia, in the cities of Fergana and Leninakan, participated in the restoration of constitutional order in Chechnya in 1994-1996, and since 1999 - in counter-terrorist operations in the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation.

For courage and heroism demonstrated at the performance of military duty, 19 servicemen of the division were awarded the title of Hero of Russia, more than 6,000 servicemen were awarded state awards of the Russian Federation, 29 servicemen were forever enrolled in the lists of their military units. The Combined battalion of the Division is a traditional participant of military parades in the Red Square. Soldiers and officers of the unit were involved in 140 military parades, including the historic parade on November 7, 1941 and the Victory Parade on June 24, 1945, when they plunged the banners of the defeated Nazi armies at the Mausoleum.

In 1953 the Dzerzhinsky Division moved across to the MVD. In this unit there were created the Honor Guard company, subordinate since 1956 to the military commandant's office in Moscow and supporting the international protocol events of national importance, and the forefather of Spetsnaz of the MIA Internal Troops - a special purpose detachment "Vityaz."

The Dzerzhinsky Division ensured security at the Potsdam Conference of 1945 and the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics. In September 1991 it was announced that the new Russian National Guard would be formed mainly from the elite Dzerzhinsky division, the KGB and the MVD Internal Troops. In its first stage the RSFSR National Guard was planned to consist of 8 brigades with 10 thousand men each. In October 1991 RSFSR Vice-President Aleksandr Rutskoi said that the size of the RSFSR National Guard would not exceed 3,000 in the first year. In the second year the number of guardsmen would rise to 10,000, and as the budget deficit declined to 66,000. Rutskoi said the first training center would be created on the base of the Dzerzhinsky division in Balashikha.

Yeltsin relied heavily on Interior Ministry troops of the Dzerzhinsky Division during the confrontations that followed the September 1993 coup. During the October 1993 coup attempt, the only forces who really saved the Ostankino TV-Center were special forces of Dzerzhinsky division, which were trained to fight against crowds in the streets.

The Taman Guard were one assigned to the MVD as a sister unit to the Dzerzhinsky Division. After the August 1991 coup, the three units principally involved in policing Moscow were the "Tula Quick Reaction Division," the Taman Motorized Rifle Division, and an unnamed heavy tank division. Units in the first two divisions announced their loyalty to Yeltsin. There was no indication that the Dzerzhinsky Division played significant role in supporting the coup. The Kantemirovsk division, together with the Taman division and some Airborne Troops, were active in Moscow. Elements from the Ryazan Airborne Division, the Sevastopol infantry regiment, and a battalion from the Taman division, had moved to support Yeltsin.

It was also dispatched to the restive regions of Nagorno-Karabakh, North Ossetia and Chechnya upon the demise of the Soviet Union. The Dzerzhinsky Division was active in the Chechen war. The Dzerzhinsky Division bore the name of the first chairman of the Cheka until February 1994, when its name was changed to the Separate Operational Task Division of Interior Troops, or ODON [Otdelnaya diviziya osobennogo naznacheniya]. The Russian president on 25 January 1999 appointed Major-General Nikolai Turapin as ODON commander. Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin on 15 February 1999 introduced the new commander.

The 1st ODON formerly controlled the Rus’ and Vityaz special forces elements, but in 2008 they were combined into the MVD VV’s 604th Special Purpose Center, a Moscow-based commando unit that can be used for counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency or counter hipster / liberal / protester operations at the Kremlin’s discretion.

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.” The division included the following military units (as of 01 January 2013):

  • 604th Red special-purpose center, w / h 3179, formed in 2008 combining (Vityaz and Rus)
  • 2nd Regiment of operational use, w / h 3186
  • 4th Regiment of operational use, w / h 3419
  • 5th Regiment of operational use, w / h 3500
  • 60th Training Regiment, w / h 3421
  • 344th separate battalion command, a / h 6771 (ORRiKS in / hr 3486)
  • Separate Battalion, a / h 3128
  • Separate Repair and Refurbishment Battalion, w / h 3187
  • Selected Medical Battalion, w / h 3532
  • 319th separate battalion for the protection and security training centers (centers village. New and Noginsk, Moscow region), in / hr 3058
  • 4th separate company for radiation, chemical and biological protection, w / h 3401
  • Garrison quarters and operations area, a / h 3492
  • 441st Separate Security Battalion, in / hr 6909 (formed in November–December 2012)
  • vGarrison military officers

The entire division employed more than ten thousand personnel, hundreds of armored vehicles, artillery (mortars and anti-aircraft guns). Overall, in Moscow or subject to a very quick deployment, the MVD/FSB disposed of perhaps 15,000 first-line security troops (including maybe 400 special forces) and another 12,000-15,000 second-line forces.

For courage and heroism in the performance of military duty, 19 division soldiers were awarded the title of Hero of Russia, the state awards of the Russian Federation - more than 6 thousand people.

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.

For Merits to the Fatherland the Division was awarded the Order of Lenin (1939), the Order of Red Banner (1944), the Order of October Revolution (1985) and the Order of Zhukov (2014). Dzerzhinsky's name and image have become 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.

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