Top General in Putin’s Personal Army Is Arrested by the Federal Security Service (FSB)

Multiple sources have reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the arrest and detention of General Roman Gavrilov, the deputy director of Rosgvardiya, or the National Guard of Russia. This National Guard is not to be confused with anything resembling the US National Guard. The Rosgvardiya is composed of internal security troops, from police to paratroops and special forces, that report directly to Vladimir Putin and who are responsible for the stability of the state.

In 2016, President Putin signed a decree that created the Rosgvardiya. This degree did not entail whole new organizations or the recruitment of new troops but rather a reorganization of existing internal security forces into a separate agency reporting directly to Putin. The most significant change was the transfer of 140,000 Internal Troops from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD: Ministerstvo Vnutrennikh Del), which formed the base of the new organization. The Ministry of Internal Affairs lost another 40,000 troops to the OMON Special Purpose Mobile detachments (OMON: Otryad Mobilnyi Osobennogo Naznacheniya), as well as 12,000 to the Specialized Quick Reaction Forces (SOBR: Spetsialnyi Otryad Bystrogo Reagirovaniya). The MVD's money-making arm of the Okhrana, which provides government security guards for a fee, was also transferred to the new National Guard.

The Internal Troops, divided into operational brigades, divisions, and special forces detachments, form the bulk of what could be considered a counter-insurgency army. Other forces form motorized units to support the OMON or SOBR, while conscripts fill the bulk of other independent battalions or regiments, largely providing static fixed-site security. These forces are distributed among seven regional commands that differ in capability and size. Some reports put the total personnel strength of the Rosgvardiya at approximately 400,000, although the exact number is unknown.

When news of Gavrilov’s arrest surfaced, there were the usual denials, but, for once, they were quickly debunked by Russian media. As a bonus, Gavrilov was previously in Putin's personal security service. What led to his downfall? Probably none of the quasi-official reasons.

One source said he was fired over alleged leaks of military intel that “led to loss of life,” while two others said he was cuffed for “wasteful squandering of fuel.”

Under Russian doctrine, the Rosgvardiya follows behind the frontline troops to cow civilian populations into submission and suppress any hint of resistance. According to various reports, the Rosgvardiya were among the leading elements of the invasion forces, probably due to the Russian intelligence assessment predicting the Armed Forces of Ukraine would melt away, and the people would welcome the Russian troops. There is good reason why this terribly flawed assessment led to the arrest of senior FSB officers earlier this week. As a result, Putin's private army suffered heavy losses when facing armed opposition rather than protesting grandmothers. Some theorize that Gavrilov was arrested for mismanaging the Rosgvardiya’s operations and causing unnecessary losses.

Regardless of the reason, a favorite of one of Putin's inner circle has been arrested. That, alone, is a sign of turmoil within the Kremlin.

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