Image - Soviet militia patrol car

Militia (міліція; militsiia). The name of the ordinary police that was used in Ukraine from 1919 to 2015. The militia established throughout the Russian Empire in March 1917 differed from the tsarist police in being subject to local government, not to the central Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). In the Ukrainian National Republic the police was placed under the control of the UNR Ministry of Internal Affairs in March 1918. Under the Hetman government it was reorganized into the National Guard, and then under the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic it was called a militia and, from 1920, a civil guard.

In Soviet Ukraine the militia at first came under the control of the republic's People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs. For a few years (1930–4) the militia was controlled directly by the republic's Council of People's Commissars, and then by both the republic and the Union commissariats of internal affairs, which in 1946 were renamed ministries of internal affairs. Since 1960 it has been under the republic's Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The militia's role is to ensure public order, protect public and communal property, and suppress crime. It oversees the internal passport system and registers automotive vehicles. Its personnel consists of recruits with a two-year term and of career officers. They are assisted by special civilian volunteers, the Narodni druzhyny, who help patrol neighborhoods, control crowds, and gather information on the activities of civilians. Historically, the militia has been an important part of the state security apparatus. In 1949–53 it was under the operational control of the MGB. Up to the demise of the USSR in 1991, it co-operated closely with the KGB in keeping individuals under surveillance and provided a cover of legality for political repression. Each militia station had a KGB staff assigned to it. With the rise of mass demonstrations under Mikhail Gorbachev’s regime during the perestroika period, the militia set up special riot- and crowd-control units. The militia was finally desolved in Ukraine on 7 November 2015 and replaced with the National Police of Ukraine.

Ostap Skrypnyk

[This article was updated in 2023.]

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