A group of United Russia deputies and senators on Friday submitted to the State Duma a package of five bills allowing the Russian Guard to create its own volunteer formations. One of the authors of the initiative, Chairman of the Duma Committee on Information Policy Alexander Khinshtein, emphasized that there is no talk of including the private military company (PMC) Wagner in the Russian Guard, but its fighters will be able to conclude contracts with the department on an individual basis and many are already ready do it. Volunteers participating in hostilities as part of the Russian Guard formations will receive the full range of benefits and payments provided to citizens who have signed contracts with the Ministry of Defense, as well as protection from discredit and fakes. The military expert believes that such an initiative “can only be welcomed.”
In the explanatory note to the main bill its authors - among them the heads of the relevant State Duma committees Andrei Kartapolov (on defense) and Vasily Piskarev (on security) - point out the existence of a legal gap: the troops of the Russian Guard, along with the armed forces of the Russian Federation, “are directly involved in a special military operation carried out on the territory of Ukraine , DPR, LPR, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions,” but the department cannot create volunteer formations. “Such authority is now granted only to the Russian Ministry of Defense, while the participation of the Russian Guard in the Northern Military District cannot be underestimated - it carries out all the tasks provided for by law in the new entities,” noted in his Telegram channel, co-author of the project, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building Andrei Klishas.
Now it is proposed to unify the powers of the Ministry of Defense and the National Guard in this matter.
According to the bill, as in the case of the military department, volunteer formations can be created by the Russian Guard based on the decision of the president.
The Law “On Defense” is supplemented by a clause on the oath that will be taken by persons staying in such formations. And it is proposed to amend the law “On Veterans” to include combat veterans of volunteers who have entered into contracts with the Russian Guard to participate in a special operation in Ukraine.
In addition to the main bill, the package of initiatives includes amendments to four codes: Criminal (UK), Code of Administrative Violations (CAO), Labor And Tax. They extend to citizens serving in volunteer formations of the Russian Guard and members of their families the same amount of social guarantees, benefits and compensation that are provided to volunteers entering into contracts with the Ministry of Defense.
The activities of the Russian Guard volunteers will not be discredited, nor will it be possible to disseminate “deliberately false information” about them: the relevant articles of the Code of Administrative Offenses and the Criminal Code, which already protect military personnel and volunteers of the Ministry of Defense, will apply to them.
Alexander Khinshtein explained in his Telegram channel that the volunteer units of the Russian Guard will be no different from the same formations of the Ministry of Defense. He dispelled rumors that the Wagner PMC would join these formations, but added that individually the Wagnerites could well sign a contract with the Russian Guard and many of them have already expressed such a desire. “The volunteers will not be military personnel or employees of the Russian Guard. Their legal and social guarantees will fully correspond to the volunteers of the Ministry of Defense. No PMCs or any other structures will be able to join these formations. Contracts will be concluded only with citizens. Former PMC fighters (including Wagner) will certainly be able to become volunteers of the Russian Guard, but on an individual basis. The department has already received a large number of such requests. Not using the combat experience, knowledge and potential of these people is the height of recklessness,” the United Russia member wrote.
Let us recall that it was the Ministry of Defense’s demand that all private military companies participating in the North Military District sign contracts with the military department, according to experts, that became one of the reasons for the June rebellion of the “Wagnerites.” After these events, the leader of A Just Russia - For Truth (SRZP) Sergei Mironov expressed his readiness to again submit to the Duma a bill prepared by his faction regulating the activities of PMCs with their unconditional subordination to the Ministry of Defense.
One of the developers of this document, member of the State Duma Committee on Defense Dmitry Kuznetsov (SRZP), called the new initiative of parliamentarians led by Alexander Khinshtein “very useful for the country” if it “helps the Russian Guard recruit volunteers to the front and hasten the return home of those mobilized.”
“But only if you really go to the front, as part of sabotage and other combat units of the Russian Guard,” the deputy said.
Political scientist Konstantin Kalachev believes that the fighters of the Wagner PMC will be “more comfortable in the Russian Guard,” and it, in turn, “will benefit from their skills, abilities, and experience.” “It’s not just about Wagner; we have a lot of such volunteer units that participate in the North Military District. It’s just that “Wagner” has been advertised,” notes military expert, retired colonel Viktor Litovkin. “We can only welcome the desire of people to fight for the interests of Russia.”