Russia to offer additional state protection to participants in counter-terrorist operations

The exercise of the Interior Ministry's tactical and counter-terrorism units. © Grigoriy Sisoev
The Russian government has drafted a set of amendments extending state protection programs to military servicemen and police who take part in counter-terrorist operations, as well as intelligence agents who protect the interests of the country.

The bill, which was published on the government’s website on Thursday, proposes changing the current norm under which state protection can only be offered at the written request or written consent of those eligible for such protection – witnesses, judges, jury members, and other participants in criminal law proceedings. The new document contains provisions allowing the protection measures to be extended to those who cannot file such requests or give consent when state authorities possess information showing that their life or health is in danger.

The bill authorizes investigations into such reports and sets the terms under which these probes must be completed. It empowers the authorities to take urgent measures to protect the persons in extraordinary cases.

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The list of persons eligible for state protection under the federal law has been extended to include military police who personally took part in armed standoffs with criminals and terrorists, military servicemen who personally took part in counter-terrorist operations, and agents of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service who personally participated in special operations or performed other functions aimed at defending the security of the Russian Federation.

The bill also includes more precise rules for cancelling state protection when it is no longer needed – presently this procedure is complicated, leading to a waste of state money.

Russia initially introduced the law providing state protection for witnesses and crime victims in 2004. The previous law, which came into force in 1995, provided state protection only for judges and law enforcement officers. The law sanctions both bodyguard services and – in extreme cases – a full change in identity for the protected person and his or her family members.