MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s upper house of parliament Wednesday passed a Kremlin-backed bill clarifying the broad role to be played by the fledgling military police, whose ranks will as a result have to swell substantially.
The draft legislation approved by the Federation Council stipulates that the military police are to be part of the armed forces and be tasked with maintaining law and order in the military.
Its tasks will involve investigating crimes committed by or against military personnel, ensuring traffic safety in the army, as well as guarding military facilities.
Military police will be empowered to use force, firearms, and special police and military equipment in line with relevant constitutional provisions, federal laws and military regulations.
The police force could also be used in counterterrorism and antiriot operations, according to the bill.
President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future.
Former Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov announced in July 2011 that creation of a regulatory framework for establishment of the military police was being completed.
Creation of military police units had been mooted for years, mainly in the context of brutal hazing and bullying practices in the military. The draft legislation that has completed its passage through the legislature now, however, will endow the units with wider responsibility and powers.
Colonel Igor Sidorkevich, the head of the Military Police Directorate at the Defense Ministry, said last year that his force consisted of some 6,500 personnel.
Sidorkevich, who is reportedly a judo sparring partner of Putin, said duties under the draft legislation, especially counterterrorism and the protection of strategically important infrastructure, would require military police to staff more than 50,000 people.