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Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia
Внутренние войска Министерства внутренних дел
Vnutrenniye Voiska Ministerstva Vnutrennikh Del
Common name Internal Troops
Emblem of Interior Troops of Russia BB MVD.gif
Emblem of Internal Troops
Flag vv enl.jpg
Flag of Internal Troops
Agency overview
Formed March 27, 1811
Employees 182,000 in 2012[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency Russia
Governing body Ministry of Internal Affairs (Russia)
General nature
  • Law enforcement
  • Local civilian police
Operational structure
Headquarters Moscow

Internal Troops, full name Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs (MVD) (Russian: Внутренние войска Министерства внутренних дел, Vnutrenniye Voiska Ministerstva Vnutrennikh Del; abbreviated ВВ, VV) is a paramilitary national guard like force in Russia. Internal Troops are subordinated to MVD.

They are used to support and reinforce the Russian Police, deal with large-scale riots, internal armed conflicts and safeguarding of highly-important facilities (like nuclear power plants). As such, the force is involved in all conflicts and violent disturbances in the history of Soviet Union and modern Russia, including Stalin's mass deportations, imprisonments and executions and First and Second Chechen Wars. During wartime, the Internal Troops fall under Armed Forces military command and fulfill the missions of local defence and rear area security.

Strength has also fluctuated and was about 350,000 at its height. Currently at less than 200,000, it consists of both conscripts and volunteers. Its officers graduated from at least four schools. Rumors abound of an officer shortage since 1998. As May 2013, current Commander of the Russian Internal Troops is Army General Nicholas E. Rogozhin, who was appointed in 2004.


A group of Internal Troops in 2007

On 28 July 1988, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet issued a decree “On duties and rights of the Internal Troops of the USSR MVD when safeguarding public order”, clarifying its role in the cracking USSR.[2] However, the Internal Troops were still a part of the Armed Forces and this state of affairs pleased no one. The Armed Forces did not want to be seen as a force of internal suppression, especially after the disastrous Afghan war. The MVD was finding itself having to extinguish increasingly frequent and violent hot spots and to cope with growing and increasingly well organised and equipped criminals. For this the MVD needed more fire power. On 21 March 1989, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR decided to take the Internal Troops out of the Armed Forces[3] and give them to the Interior Ministry.

Russia treated the First Chechen War as an internal matter and the MVD played the coordinating role for the Russian forces in the area. The Internal Troops on Chechen territory were reinforced but the MVD was not ready. Its commanders had no experience or training which would prepare them for the conflict. The deputy commander of the Internal Troops General Kavun attempted to justify the less than satisfactory performance of his troops by saying that they had only 39% of the BTR and BMP vehicles they were allocated on paper[4]

Legal basis

A Russian VV serviceman in 2012

The Federal Law No.27-173 was signed into law on 6 February 1997. The law is very important because it sets the operational standards for today's Internal Troops. The law is entitled "On the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs Internal Troops".[5] When supporting a state-of-emergency regime, Internal Troops are paid salary increases and additional monetary payments according to federal laws and other legal acts approved by the Minister of Internal Affairs. Article 38 grants senior operational commanders the right to call in subunits of special motorized formations and military units outside their deployment areas for a period of up to one month.

The federal law also details the important role that the Russian Ministry of Defense plays in the affairs of the MVD's Internal Troops when crises arise. For example, MOD is responsible for providing airliners for supporting Internal Troop activities during emergency situations, and conditions of armed conflicts; carrying out the stockpiling and echelonment of supplies of armaments and military equipment, ammunition, fuel and lubricants for the mobilization deployment of the Internal Troops in wartime; and transferring arms and military equipment free of charge to the Internal Troops through support services based on special decisions of the Russian Government, and rendering assistance in the repair and restoration of damaged arms and military equipment.

General organization

An elite group of Vityaz special forces personnel during a public show in 2012

Despite being subordinated to civilian MVD authority, Internal Troops are a paramilitary force with centralized system of ranks, command and service. The Chief Commander and Staff of the troops report only to Ministry of Internal Affairs, maintaining their separate chain of command. VV units in Soviet Union were predominantly formed up of conscripts drafted by the same system as for the Soviet Army. Modern Internal Troops in Russia and Ukraine are experiencing a slow transition to the contract personnel system. VV officers are trained in both own special academies and Army's military academies.

The main kinds of Internal Troops are field units, various facility-guarding units, Special Motorized Units - riot control and patrol units which use Police uniforms and special forces like Rus. Since the 1980s, the several spetsnaz (special forces) units were created within the VV to deal with terrorism and hostage crises.

Fields units are essentially light motorized infantry, similar to respective regular army units by their organization and weapons. Currently, the primary role of the Russian Internal Troops is their large-scale participation in the North Caucasus conflict.

Districts and formations

The organization of the Russian Internal Troops comprises headquarters, military units, military training institutions and the institutions for Internal Troops activities, and maintenance and administration bodies. The largest units are located in all major cities.[6]

Internal Troops disctricts:

  • Northwestern District
  • Moscow Orshansko-Hingansky Order of the Red Banner District
  • North Caucasus District
  • Privolzhsky District
  • Ural District
  • Siberian District
  • Eastern District

Military units under direct subordination:

  • A separate rapid deployment division (ODON) This formation, the former Felix Dzerzhinsky Division, based near Moscow, is the most well-known formation of the Internal Troops.
  • The Central Communications
  • Engineering Center
  • Intelligence Directorate Internal Troops under the Intelligence Chief-Deputy Chief of Staff of the Internal Troops.


Russian VV troops in riot gear in 2012

  • National defence - conducts rear area security operations and all military operations within national borders, counter-intelligence authority in wartime.
  • Security - Guard "key" state institutions (except for the Kremlin and the highest echelons of the government which are guarded by the Federal Protective Service (FSO)), nuclear facilities, special storage depots and military bases.
  • Counter-terrorist operations (VV special forces units such as Vityaz and Rus)
  • Military police functions
  • Public order - Assist the Russian Police for riot control operations when OMON units are not available.
  • Prisoner transport - In Soviet times, also guarded and operated the Gulag. Today: convict convoyage and transport. Security and operation of prisons have been performed by the Federal Correctional Service since its creation in 1994.
  • Possible counterweight to the regular military, especially during the Soviet era.
  • Border control - to assist the Russian Federal Border Service in the protection of the State border of the Russian Federation.


Internal troops ABS-40 "Lavina" riot control water cannon on BAZ-6953 chassis.

Shoulder patches

Internal Troops (variant)

Internal Troops (variant)

Internal Troops High Command

Moscow district.jpg

Moscow District

NW dist.jpg

North-West District

North caucasian dist.jpg

North Caucasian District

Volga district.jpg

Volga District

Ural district.jpg

Ural District

Siberian dist.jpg

Siberian District

Eastern dist.jpg

Eastern District

Internal security forces, military Colleges.jpg

Internal Security and Military Colleges

Separate division operational use.jpg

Separate Rapid Deployment Division

Management protection of important public facilities and special cargo.jpg

Management of the Protection of Important Public Facilities and Special Cargo


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website

  1. Национальная гвардия Владимира Путина — На базе подразделений МЧС, Внутренних войск, ВДВ и военной полиции может появиться новая силовая структура
  2. Organy I Voyska MVD Rossiiy, MVD Moskva 1996, p461.
  3. Organy I Voyska MVD Rossiiy, MVD Moskva 1996, p.332
  4. Rossiyskiye Vooruzhennyye Sily V Chechenskom Konflikte: Analiz, Itogi, Vyvody, N N Novichkov, V Ya Snegovskiy, A G Sokolov, V Yu Shavarov, Kholveg-Infoglob-Trivola, Parizh-Moskva, 1995, p126
  5. 'Rossiiskaya Federatsiya Federal'ni Zakon o vnutrennikh voiskakh Ministerstva vnutrennikh del Rossiiskoi Federatsii' of 25 December 1996.
  6. Neil Baumgardner, Russian Armed Forces Order of Battle, see bottom of page.

See also

*Awards of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia

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