New ‘Praetorian Guard’ Seals Putin’s Hold on Power

New ‘Praetorian Guard’ Seals Putin’s Hold on Power (Source During a televised appearance last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a  putin-gets-his-own-army” \t  surprise announcement. He was overhauling Russian law-enforcement operations to create a domestic army that would answer to him personally. This paramilitary force will be called the National Guard and will be led by former KGB agent Victor Zolotov, a judo-sparring partner of Putin’s who once served as the president’s bodyguard. There are also indications that Putin is growing increasingly concerned that Washington may try and stage a new Russian revolution against him. The new National Guard is being equipped with its own intelligence service and investigative powers. This intelligence service would report directly to Putin, via Zolotov, and not to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. “Of course the president is concerned, he can see that the United States wants to overthrow him, like they did to Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi, or look what they have done in Ukraine—they dream of seeing Russia fall apart, so Putin takes measures to prevent a Ukrainian-style coup,” one member of the Russian Duma’s Public Chamber told the Daily Beast. At a time when economic stagnation is making civil unrest more likely, there are legitimate concerns that Putin’s new National Guard will be even more authoritarian than the old Internal Troops. The number of National Guard personnel will exceed 15 percent of the Russian military. This paramilitary police force has also been granted the rights to make arrests without introducing themselves and to fire without warning “in special cases.” In comments made last January, Putin said he sincerely believed in the Communist ideology when he was serving in the KGB. He mentioned that he didn’t throw away his  putin-denounces-lenin-says-stalin-got-it-right KGB membership card like many of his colleagues did. Rather, he still keeps it at home. As president, Putin is combining Stalin’s idea of a unitary state model with imperial policies from Russia’s czarist era. Like the Byzantine emperors and Russian czars, Putin is using the Russian Orthodox Church as a de facto state religion to unify his empire. If this Orthodox-dominated unitary state isn’t enough to secure his power base, Putin now has a 400,000-strong Praetorian Guard to do his bidding!

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