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16,000 police needed to ensure order at Moscow City Day Celebration

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More than “16,000 police officers, Interior Ministry troops and police helpers” were on the streets of Moscow this weekend to “ensure order” during the Moscow City Day celebrations (source: RIA Novosti).

The weekend’s festivities passed off without any serious trouble, which is great. But I wonder, was anyone really expecting the kind of trouble that requires 16,000 people to keep order?

For me, the RIA Novosti article brought to mind the recent London riots. During a couple of days of rioting that captured headlines around the world, the number of police on the streets of London hovered around the 6,000 mark. It was only after the trouble hit its peak that police numbers were increased to reach the magic number of… 16,000.

Two very different approaches to policing.


  • By some quick research – and please someone correct me if you have better info available.

    Greater London Population – 7,825,200 (2010)
    Moscow Population – 11, 514, 330 (2010) (not counting Moscow Oblast)
    (source WIkipedia)

    *Note thatthe Moscow urban area (1,081 sq km) is a much smaller area (almost half the size) of what is counted as the Greater London urban area (1,572 sq km). If a comparative area of Moscow Oblast were included in this, the ‘population’ of Moscow would be considerably higher.

    Unofficially, including illegal immigrants, Moscow may have as many as 17 million people.

    Unofficially, including illegal immigrants , London, may have as many as 8, 575, 200 people.

    That makes London’s population, with a larger area, about half the size of Moscow, with a smaller urban area considered.

    Just at the Notting Hill Carnival last week, a geographically isolated area of London, 6,500 police officers were called out to ‘ensure order’, due to simmering tensions with ethnic minorities reflective of recent civil unrest in poor areas of London and across the country recently.

    The Moscow City Day celebrations included over 700 official public events scattered over the entire city.

    Russia suffers terrorist attacks at least weekly and sometimes daily in the simmering Wahhabist/Salafist fundamentalist movement in the Caucasus. Once a year major terrorist incidents in Moscow are pretty much expected.

    The UK is an island in the middle of the Atlantic with no geographic threats.

    We’re quite happy with the militsia in Moscow (and still refuse to call them ‘police’ with Medvedev’s ‘rebranding’) who despite my peaceful political protest activity here against the Kremlin admin, have never given me even half the trouble that the thugs in uniform they call police in London did while I was peacefully protesting there as a Green. This of course, however, is fairly irrelevant to the discussion at hand and another can of worms, entirely….

    IMHO, and very respectfully, I think you are barkng at nothing, but are obviously looking for something to bark at.

  • You’re right – it’s a bit of an apples and oranges comparison. The populations are very different in terms of size and, while there will be many similarities in the policing needed, each city also faces different threats.

    Really I was just intrigued by the different styles of policing and was musing aloud – I don’t really have any particular axe to grind about which approach is better.

    I do wonder, though, what threats are sufficient to make the authorities in Moscow decide they need that many police? I know you mention terrorism, but is that really something that boots on the ground can do much to prevent?

  • I think you’ve picked a bad example. 🙂

    There has been, very recently, an event to make police and positions afraid that nationalist/racist riots could break out again. (Killing of a Russian by a boxing champ from the Caucuses in a bar brawl.) In terms of terrorism, it’s also an excellent hit – a celebration of the nation’s capital that also happens to be fairly near the Beslan anniversary.

    You also need to realize that despite whether or not it might be actually effective, politicians must look like they are doing everything possible to combat terrorism and that generally means boots on the ground for such public occasions.

    All in all, understandable the large numbers for City Day (esp if you saw how rowdy the MGU students got at their laser and fireworks show on Sparrow Hills).

    Interesting numbers are those of how many police officers the countries actually employ. There are about 800,000 police in total in the United States, with twice the population, compared to the slimmed down 1.1 million Russian police force. Just interesting to note the difference.

    Australia has 42000 police officers for 22 million people. If Australia were the size of Russia, it would have 276000 police officers and basically double that for the amount per population for the US.

    (Granted, geopolitically, the US and Australia are also apples and oranges with Russia – but still interesting the numbers there).

    Most interesting is to look at the policy of policing certain events – for example, they approve a protest meeting specifically limited to 500 people, then surround it with 1000 OMON… how can those folks feel that they have not just been invited to a turkey shoot?

  • Interesting stats there – I shall go off and start bashing the Australian police state immediately 🙂

    I suppose the perception of the Russian police that we see in the Western media, which you’ve noted in your last paragraph, combined with my own personal subjective experience of seeing far more police in Russia than I ever did in England have led me to be suspicious of the way that Russia polices events.

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