The Russian president has issued several executive orders creating a new internal security body. The new National Guard will likely take part in the "suppression of unauthorized mass actions," a Kremlin spokesman said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday reshuffled several security units under the authority of the interior ministry, effectively creating a "new federal executive government body" aimed at safeguarding national security.
"We are creating a national guard, which will fight terrorism and organized crime and, in close contact with the interior ministry, will continue to perform functions that were previously performed by Special Purpose Police units, Special Rapid Response units and so on," Putin said in a statement.
The National Guard will "participate, together with Russia's internal affairs bodies, in enforcement of public order, maintenance of public security and emergency rule, participate in the fight against international terrorism and ensuring the legal regime of counterterrorism operations, (and) participate in the fight against terrorism," said the president's decree.
In a series of executive orders, the former head of Putin's personal security service, Viktor Zolotov, was made head of the National Guard and appointed to Russia's Security Council, effectively allowing him to report directly to the president instead of the interior minister.
Viktor Zolotov was also the commander of Russia's internal troops, which now comprise the National Guard
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the National Guard will likely take part in the "suppression of unauthorized mass actions," Russia's state-owned TASS news agency reported.
Peskov noted that the new security body is also tasked with protecting public order and guarding critical state facilities.
The spokesman added that the latest changes to the interior ministry did not signal a crisis of confidence, but instead aimed at creating a more efficient and effective "territorial defense" structure.
Putin's move to reorganize state security bodies under one entity comes after Moscow began a partial pullout of Syria, where it launched an air campaign largely in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
The decree also comes ahead of legislative elections slated for September, which may prove to be a confidence vote on Putin's handling of the economy and national security.