Kirill Kabanov’s Call for Federal Legislation on Citizen Patrols

In the city of Murino in the Leningrad region, local resident Kirill Kabanov has taken the initiative to establish voluntary citizen patrols with the goal of safeguarding their community’s peace and security. Over 100 individuals have already stepped forward to volunteer for this cause. Nevertheless, there are valid concerns regarding the effectiveness of these patrols, given that the volunteers lack the legal authority to enforce the law.

Personnel Shortage Plaguing Law Enforcement Agencies

Recently, Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, sounded the alarm about a significant shortage of personnel within law enforcement agencies. In the month of July alone, roughly 5,000 employees left these agencies. This shortage extends to other law enforcement bodies, raising pressing questions about who will step in to fill the void left by the departing personnel.

Historical Precedent: People’s Squads during the Soviet Era

Federal Legislation on Citizen Patrols
Federal Legislation on Citizen Patrols

During the Soviet era, a solution was implemented and put into active practise: the Voluntary People’s Squads (VND) collaborated with the police to maintain public order. These squads, in tandem with one or two law enforcement officers, patrolled problematic neighborhoods in the evenings, effectively quelling disturbances and dealing with troublemakers and delinquents.

Recent Endeavors to Establish Self-Defense Units

Intermittently, society has made attempts to establish self-defense units akin to the VND. Two years ago, the media extensively covered the Sosenskoye settlement on the outskirts of the capital, where the largest construction market in Europe, Slavic World, and the wholesale food market, Food City, employed a significant number of migrants. This neighbourhood grappled with issues such as fights and petty thefts, which had a cumulative negative impact on the local population.

Challenges in Self-Organization

With the support of Kirill Barmashev, the leader of the settlement, a self-defense squad was formed in Sosenskoye in response to these challenges. However, they encountered significant obstacles due to the shortage of law enforcement personnel, as there were only 60 police officers for every 100,000 residents in the region, a far cry from the recommended ratio of 500.

In contrast, the situation in Murino and certain areas of the Moscow region may take a different trajectory. A common issue with self-organized groups has been their lack of legal recognition. However, following the intervention of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC), these new citizen patrols could potentially attain legal status. During a recent Council meeting, members emphasized the importance of collaborating with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and lawmakers to achieve this goal. The HRC and the Ministry of Internal Affairs will jointly develop proposals, while lawmakers will draft legislation that will govern the activities of volunteer law enforcement personnel.

Kirill Kabanov's Call for Federal Legislation
Kirill Kabanov’s Call for Federal Legislation

There are numerous facets to consider when formulating this legal framework. Key elements include determining the legal status of volunteers, their protection against potential troublemakers, the nature of their interaction with authorities, and whether their contributions to maintaining law and order will be purely voluntary or compensated. Reports suggest that squad members may be equipped with more than just non-lethal weapons; they could even receive tools for incapacitation. These items would be securely stored at the regional law enforcement center following their duty. The HRC underscores the significance of society’s self-organization in the battle against street crime, particularly given the paramount importance of citizen safety in today’s climate—an aspect that is unlikely to be disregarded by the authorities.

Statement from Kirill Kabanov, HRC Member

Kirill Kabanov, a member of the Human Rights Council under the President of Russia, has drawn attention to the growing demand for protection within society, a demand that the state is currently unable to fully meet. He has emphasized the necessity for a collaborative approach between the state and society, facilitated by a comprehensive legal framework. Kabanov has underscored the urgency of enacting federal-level legislation that comprehensively addresses the development of citizen patrols and the official recognition of these groups. Such recognition would not only bolster law enforcement agencies but also enhance efforts to combat street crime.

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