Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Monday downsized the nation’s police force by 10 per cent, or 110,000 officers, as the country struggles with an economic recession.
The decree on the retrenchment said the exercise would only affect officers in management positions `on the regional level and up, and not those working directly with civilians, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Though it did not specify a reason for the downsizing Russia’s economy is expected to contract by about 3 per cent this and the government has been having a hard time balancing the budget.
Mark Galeotti, a Russian security expert at New York University, said: “I very much think this is because of the economic situation.
“All the ‘power ministries’ are having to absorb cuts, even the FSB – which in the past was protected from any downsizing.
“So this represents just one more victim of the oil price slump,” Galeotti said.
The FSB is the Russian Federation’s principal security agency.
Galeotti also said reducing the police force’s management staff, not the officers on the streets, could improve efficiency in the ministry.
“While the Russian police at the ‘front line’ are actually quite thinly spread (by my calculations, the Russians have the same officer-to-population ratio as the Netherlands), the administration is pretty extensive, in classic Russian style.
“If handled properly, these cuts need not have any real impact on the law and order situation on the streets and could represent a useful step towards greater efficiency,” Galeotti said.
According to the decree, posted on the government’s legal information website, the Interior Ministry’s staff must be reduced to 1,003,172 people from last year’s 1,113,172.
The last major downsizing in the national force occurred from 2011 to 2012 when the number of officers was cut by about 15 per cent from 1.28 million, under the then president Dmitry Medvedev.
The force’s name at the time was rebranded from the Soviet-era “militia” to the more internationally recognizable “police,” including on all uniforms, vehicles and official documents.