In Russia, a Decision to Swap Police for Private Security at Stadiums

Interior Ministry turns to private security at arenas to keep city police focused on core duties


The Russian Interior Ministry plans to continue cutting the number of policemen at football games and replacing them with stadium security personnel.

Last year, OMON anti-riot police and police squads with dogs were removed from stadiums. ``We used fewer Interior Troops servicemen, too, and advised all our personnel to refrain from using force,'' the head of the Interior Ministry's Department of Public Order, Nikolai Pershutkin, said on Monday.

He said security personnel controlled the situation at the Dynamo and Lokomotiv stadiums during many games, including ``high-risk ones''.

``We have gained some very valuable experience. I think we should seek to reduce the number of police squads at stadiums in the new season and step up the creation of their own security systems,'' Pershutkin said.

He cited statistics as saying that the number of law offences at stadiums is decreasing. While in 2003, more than 6,000 law offences were registered, last year their number decreased to 5,200.

At the same time, Pershutkin said the aggressiveness of law offenders is growing. ``The number of cases involving rough behaviour is growing. One in five spectators was detained for such offences. The number of people brought to police stations from games in a state of alcoholic intoxication has also increased,'' he said.

Pershutkin also stressed the need to tighten entry rules in order to prevent fireworks and explosive devices from being carried into stadiums. ``There must be relevant equipment, and in order to avoid unnerving spectators and building up crowds before games, it is necessary to increase the number of entry points and provide them with metal detectors,'' he said.

First Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Chekalin called for the adoption of a law that will regulate security at stadiums during the new football season.

He noted that the ministry had already drafted a relevant bill. ``The situation demands that the law should be adopted as soon as possible, particularly in view of growing terrorist threats, the danger of extremist actions and other incidents,'' Chekalin said.

In his words, ``The law will allow setting the parameters of technical means for equipping stadiums, regulations of the anti-terrorist protection and delimitate the functions of the stadium personnel and law enforcers.''

He noted that from 500 to 2,000 policemen enforce order at one Premier League game, which distracts them from their direct duties.

Pershutkin said the bill contained security requirements to be met by sport facilities. ``We should solve the issue of the certification of football stadiums in order to ensure the security of spectators at stadiums, particularly during evacuation, and meet requirements of anti-terrorist security, technical, fire safety, and sanitary norms,'' Pershutkin said.

He said the procedure for stopping or suspending sport events in case of a threat to the life or health of their partakers and spectators should be described clearly. Meanwhile, authorities will be empowered to issue and suspend security certificates.

Pershutkin noted that the measures taken by the Interior Ministry and the Russian Football Union made it possible to improve security at stadiums in Volgograd and Kazan. ``However, the problems were not solved at the Eduard Streltsov Stadium in Moscow, the Luch Stadium in Vladivostok and some other stadiums located in the Southern Federal District. Matches should be forbidden there,'' Pershutkin said.