Members of the Russian SOBR stand in formation, dressed in black with helmets, and heavily armed.
Members of the Russian SOBR

The internal military force in Russia is called “The National Guard of the Russian Federation”, and reports directly to the President. The National Guard was formed in mid-2016, and consolidated various different organisations and paramilitary police forces within Russia. The National Guard is made up of troops from the interior ministry (formerly Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, or MVD RF). Also subsumed into the National Guard were OMON (riot police) and SOBR (special forces police). These units have a long history of paramilitary policing.

Internal Troops

The Internal Troops were militarised police units, served by both conscripts and volunteers, with over 200,000 members in 2016. The new National Guard is made up of previous Internal Troops units, and armed with the same equipment, including militarised vehicles, machine guns and rocket launchers.


OMON units were Russia’s riot police, used against protesters and riots, but could also take part in military actions. The Moscow OMON had over 2,000 members.

OMON units have been used in a number of conflicts, alongside military units. OMON units were used regularly during the conflicts in Chechnya, and were accused of having been involved in a variety of acts of human rights abuse, abduction, torture and raping and killing civilians and refugees.

OMON units have also been used to regularly and brutally crack down on protests in Russian cities, including protests demanding the freedom to assembly, and gay pride marches.


The SOBR were a highly militarised "elite" unit, used for SWAT-style counter-terrorism raids. They have also been engaged in military conflicts, such as in Chechnya.