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Ministry for State Security - MGB
Ministerstvo Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti

The Russian authorities are planning to implement major reforms to law enforcement agencies, merging the federal security, federal bodyguard and foreign intelligence services into a structure similar to the Soviet-era KGB. Kommersant newspaper wrote 18 September 2016 that the reforms are scheduled for the nearest future and will be completed before the presidential elections of 2018. The planned result is the creation of the Ministry for State Security, or MGB – the agency uniting the currently independent Federal Security Committee (FSB), Federal Bodyguard Service (FSO) and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). The MGB was the abbreviation given to the security service under Stalin from 1946 to 1953.

In addition, the authors of the plan aim to merge the Prosecutor General’s Office with the federal agency for especially important criminal cases – the Investigative Committee – and dissolve the Ministry for Emergency Situations, splitting its tasks between the Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry. The major objectives behind the planned overhaul are stated as improving the effectiveness of state management and measures to counter corruption. "I think this is one of the projects that appear to be on the president's table, because in principle the idea of some kind of enlargement of the power agencies has been coming up recently," said Andrei Soldatov, the editor and founder of the investigative website Agentura.ru.

The preparatory stages of the reforms started in April 2016 with the creation of the National Guard agency, and dissolution of the Federal Migration Service and the Federal Drug Control Service with transition of their functions to the Interior Ministry. The new State Security Ministry will also receive powers of procedural control of all criminal investigations and the functions of internal affairs departments of all power agencies. Once the reforms are completed, the current heads of Russian law enforcement agencies would be replaced, but allowed that some of them – such as the head of the Investigation Committee, Aleksandr Bastrykin – will be offered “honorary posts without any real influence.”

Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters on 19 September 2016 that he could not immediately comment on the Kommersant report. News of the alleged reforms came after a series of corruption scandals that hit several Russian law enforcement agencies over the past few months. The Kommersant report suggested the changes could make the management of security and law enforcement agencies more "effective" and help stamp out corruption inside the agencies. In July several officers of the Investigation Committee, including the head and deputy head of the agency’s internal affairs department, were detained over suspected bribery and power abuse. The Federal Security Service (FSB), carried out searches of the Russian Investigative Committee's Moscow headquarters and arrested senior employees over allegations they were shielding a crime boss from prosecution in return for bribes. In September the Federal Security Service detained the deputy head of the Interior Ministry’s department for economic security on suspicion of receiving a large bribe. When FSB agents searched an apartment belonging to the man’s stepsister, they found over US$120 million in cash.

"Essentially, this is a case of bringing the band back together," said Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and an expert on Russia's security services. "The suggestion is that a presidential security service will remain outside it. But basically speaking, this ministry would reconstitute the KGB in all its aspects."

The MGB would be given sweeping new powers not only to provide investigative material for cases opened by law enforcement, but also to supervise the cases, the report said. Its investigative department would take charge of the most resonant criminal cases of the day, it continued -- and a Kommersant source specifically said that would include corruption investigations.

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