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Internal Troops (Vnutrenniye Voiska)
Under the Czars

The prototype of the internal troops were military garrisons in the times of Ivan the Terrible. At a Council held in 1550 the young Tsar gave open expression to his hostile feelings towards the boiars, whose regime during his minority had been injurious to himself and calamitous for the State. In the same year he took the first steps in a course of policy which was directed towards breaking down the influence of the great nobles.

Ivan's natural wickedness burst out when salutary restraint was removed. Apart from his own autocratic instincts, Ivan was convinced that the rule of the boiars, co-ordinate with or limiting his authority, meant political confusion, social anarchy, and civil war; and that autocracy was the sole foundation of order.

In 1560 Ivan's wife, Anastasia, died, and after her death a great change came over him. He became suspicious of everybody, removed his wise counsellors Sylvester and Adashev, banished the former to a monastery on the White Sea, beheaded many of his friends, and generally looked upon the boyars as enemies and traitors.

He left Moscow and took up his abode in the village of Alexandrovsk, a small place situated in a dense forest. Here he lived surrounded by his Oprichniki — a rough bodyguard of a thousand men, commanded by Malyuta Skuratov, and chosen from among the small nobility, but perfectly devoted to him. They formed his court and allowed themselves unbridled licence, killing and robbing whomsoever they chose, under pretext of punishing the Tsar's enemies.

The political police were called oprichniki, and the term oprichnina also applied later to the secret police organization, to the corresponding period of Russian history, and to the territory in which, during that period, the Tsar ruled directly and in which his oprichniki operated. The word Oprichniki is derived from the pre osition rich, outside, excepted from, excepted from all law. The ensign of the Oprichniki was a dog's head; and a broom anging on each side of their saddle was the emblem of the qualities required for "sweeping away treason."

Ivan at last invented a curious solution of the political problem, and proceeded to carry his design into execution in 1564. His solution was the notorious Oprichnina. Few people of the time understood his idea; he carefully abstained from explaining it; he invested it with such mystery that it seemed incomprehensible; and he carried it out with such a grotesque mise en scene that history has till recently regarded it as the wild caprice of an irresponsible madman on the throne. But, whatever judgment may be passed on its wisdom, the Oprichnina must be taken seriously, as a deliberate and carefully thought-out means of adapting the administration to the pretensions of autocracy.

The plan consisted in a division of the administration of the empire into two parts, and the establishment of a new Court, distinct from the old Court of Moscow. The new institution was called the Oprichnina or "Separate Establishment," over which the Tsar presided, and those who served in it were the Oprichniki. At the beginning large tracts of territory were set apart to maintain it, to the south-west, north-east, and north of Moscow, and during the following six or seven years new regions were continually being included in its sphere, until it embraced the greater part of the central provinces.

The rest of the empire remained under the old system, governed by the Council of Boiars, and was distinguished as the Zemshchina. Geographically the lands reserved for the Oprichnina ran, like a wedge, from north to south into the lands of the Zemshchina, which included all the frontier provinces on the west, south, and east. In the central provinces, the lands of the two spheres interlaced each other, and Moscow itself was divided.

Such a partition of territory between the sovereign and the Council of Boiars reminds us of the partition of the Roman Empire into Senatorial and Imperial provinces. But the purpose and principle were wholly different. While Augustus assigned to the Senate the more central and pacific lands, and appropriated to his own care all those which were exposed to danger, Ivan did exactly the reverse. It is also to be noted that all the chief roads of traffic from Moscow to the frontiers, with the towns that lay on them, were included in the territory of the Oprichnina, which thus commanded the tolls.

Whenever the Oprichnina seized lands, either allodial or feudal, the proprietors were uprooted, unless they were themselves enrolled in the Oprichnina. By this means the descendants of the appanaged princes, who were the most formidable members of the opposition, were detached from the places where they had power and influence, and re moved to distant regions as simple men of service; while those who had hitherto "served" these princes as their liege-men became the immediate servants of the Tsar.

The ancient local aristocracy thus received a crushing blow; and only a few who could convince the Tsar that they were harmless, such as Prince Mstislavski, or who joined the Oprichnina like the Princes Shuiski and Trubetskoi, maintained their positions. Such exceptions did not modify the general result, that men of simple boiar descent now succeeded to the influence of those who based their political claims on their princely origin.

Thus Ivan accomplished in a more sweeping way the object which he had foreshadowed in the measure of 1550 — the creation of a class of service completely dependent on himself and lacking the traditional rights and position which had formed the strength of the aristocratic resistance. The execution of this policy, involving ubiquitous, rapid, and violent changes of ownership, caused a general upturning of society, enormously increasing the confusion and complication of the already complicated and confused relations between proprietors and peasants.

Ivan led a curious life. He dressed three hundred of his Oprichniki as monks, and lived among them in almost monastic austerity, broken by wild hunting expeditions, and wilder feasts and revels. Occasionally a frenzy for bloodshed would come upon him, and he would order a whole series of executions and tortures. Thus in 1570 he went to Novgorod, where he had been told there was a plot against him, and ordered his Oprichniki to destroy the monasteries and the houses of the boyars, and put to death several thousand of the citizens.

Ivan was surnamed 'the Terrible', a name he richly deserved. The brutal Oprichniki, a body of dissolute court followers, scrupled at nothing so long as they retained the favor of the Tsar. In 1572 the Oprichnina ceased to bear this distinct name, and became simply the Court. The death of Ivan the Terrible (1584) delivered Russia from a nightmare of tyranny, but opened a period of unrest and civil strife which lasted for thirty years.

The Streltsi originated with the oprichniki of Ivan the Terrible: transformed into a sort of hereditary militia, they fought for Moscow when called upon, and in return were allowed to reside tax free, to trade, to keep shops, mills and ply various handicrafts. Their commandants tried to make serfs of them. When some complained that the colonel of one regiment was keeping back half the pay, Yazikov, the chief of the commanders, ordered these petitioners to be flogged so as to teach them not to complain of those in authority over them.

Three days before Theodore II died, they accused Griboiedov of extortion, cruelty and withholding pay and forcing them to work for him housebuilding, even during Easter week. This complaint reached Dolgoruki: he ordered the messenger to be flogged, but as the man was led away he called to his fellows, "Brothers, I was but obeying your orders," thereupon they attacked the guard and released him. Complaints became general: it was practically a revolt of the armed citizens the government had to fear. For the moment it yielded. Griboiedov was ordered to Siberia, but after only a day's imprisonment reinstated.

The Streltsi became alarmed. On the death of Theodore they, among themselves, took the oath of fealty to Peter. Sophia and her advisers intrigued and split the Streltsi. One regiment under Sukharev remained faithful to the secret oath, to Peter, the Naryshkins and Matvievs: the others demanded and received their colonels whom they flogged — Griboiedov with the knout, the others with rods — their property was confiscated, and the claims of the Streltsi paid. The Sukharev regiment took Peter and his mother to the Troitsa Monastery for safety, and it is in commemoration of this action that the Tower was built.

Peter wished for proof of Sophia's connection with the discontent amongst the Streltsi and people; in this, notwithstanding all his energy and cruelty, he was unsuccessful. Peter on his return reopened the inquiry, and fourteen torture chambers were conducted under his surveillance in the Preobrajenski suburb. The fires were never allowed to burn down, nor the gridirons on which his victims were charred to become cool either by night or day. A most compromising letter from Sophia to the Streltsi is generally considered to be a forged document, made up of stray, incoherent scraps of information wrung from maddened creatures in the torture chamber.

Whereas fifteen blows with the knout were equal to a capital sentence, one of the Streltsi was put to the torture seven times and received in all ninety-nine blows, yet confessed nothing. Korpatkov, unable to bear his tortures, killed himself. Others of the Streltsi having been put to the strappado, flogged, and burnt without getting any accusations; the wives, sisters and female relatives of the Streltsi were tortured; so were the ladies and sewing women in attendance on Sophia. Still no evidence was forthcoming.

Then Sophia herself was put to the torture, Peter doing the hangman's work. She never wavered in denying all connection with the movement. Her younger sister, Marfa, was then strung up in turn and all that could be learned of her was that she had apprised her sister Sophia of the return of the Streltsi to Moscow and of their desire to see her rule re-established. Peter was unwearying in jhis attendance in the torture chambers, and it is said * took a fiendish delight in the agony his own wrought cruelties produced on his relatives, but when he failed to obtain evidence he determined to punish indiscriminately.

The executions of the Streltsi, like those of Ivan the Terrible's victims, were in wholesale fashion. Five were beheaded just outside the torture chamber by the Tsar Peter himself; the courtiers of his bodyguard he commanded to do the same, thinking doubtless they would enjoy the shedding of blood even as he did. Two foreigners alone refused to comply with this order. Some 200 Streltsi were crucified, impaled or hanged before Sophia's windows in the Novo Devichi Convent: but most were executed in the Grand Square under the wall of the Kremlin, starting on Sept. 30th, 1698.

On some occasions a tree was used as a block ; the victims placed in rows along it, and their heads struck off by men of Peter's new guard. Others were hanged; as late as 1727 the heads stuck on pike points stood round the Lobnce Mesto. In January 1699 came more enquiries, more tortures, more executions, and then the extermination of the Streltsi determined upon. There was a break from 1699 to 1704 as Peter required the remaining Streltsi to aid in the wars against Swedes and others, but after the revolt in Astrakhan, the executions were renewed. Stragglers and deserters from the corps, those related to them and who associated with them, were placed under a ban—they might not be employed by anyone; none might give them food, shelter, or assistance. They perished miserably. In such manner did Peter exterminate the old Muscovite militia.

Under Peter I the "residential elements" became known as garrisons. Report Card on February 19, 1711 the organization provided 43 infantry regiments of the garrison, who were later added and dragoon regiments. In 1764, there was a reformation of the garrison regiments in the border and internal battalions.

Until the beginning of the XIX century in the Russian state of internal troops function together with the police performed the Cossack regiments and provincial teams. In January 1811 the local military command responsible for "guarding peace and tranquility in the country", were withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the civil authorities and transferred to the Defense Ministry. Generally accepted date of birth of the internal troops was on March 27, when the decree of Emperor Alexander I established the provincial company and the team relocated to the provincial capital, and were formed by military battalions inner prison, which became one of the most important parts of the security system of the state.

"Regulations for the Internal Guard" defines its objectives: to assist the authorities in the implementation of laws and sentences of courts, the capture and destruction of the robbers, scattering prohibited by law assemblage, policing at fairs, auctions, national and religious festivals, tracking criminals, treasury, and conducting rescue from fires, floods of rivers, etc. From 1811 to 1828 he headed the internal guard Adjutant General Count EF Komarovsky (1769 - 1843). Warriors Internal Guard took part in the fighting in the Great Patriotic War of 1812 and the Crimean War of 1854-1855, when the ranks of the militia joined 17.5 thousand soldiers of the guard.

Military Reform, held by Alexander III of, and touched the inside of the prison. In May of 1886 by order of the military authorities announced the creation of the convoy guards, consisting of 567 teams to accompany the prisoners of all categories in the administrative and judicial institutions to places of detention and forced labor. About the continuity of internal and convoy guards said the fact that on 27 March 1911 in Russia was celebrated the 100th anniversary of the convoy guards. On this day, Emperor Nicholas II declared all officers and class ranks "Highest pleased", and the lower ranks - "Tsar thank you." special badge was established in honor of the anniversary.

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Page last modified: 19-05-2016 20:25:02 ZULU