Staunton, June 25 – Moscow has already imposed restrictions on Russian security service personnel from travelling abroad, but now interior officials in Kaliningrad are “overfulfilling the plan” and restricting the ability of police and procuracy officials in Kaliningrad from travelling to other parts of the Russian Federation unless they can accord to fly.
According to yesterday’s Novyye Izvestiya, such personnel will not be allowed to travel by ground from the exclave to the rest of Russia because to do so they would have to cross the territory of Lithuania. Given that many of them cannot afford to fly, that measure keeps them from traveling at all.
Such restrictions, of course, are a clear violation of the 1993 Constitution. And not surprisingly, many are angry, something that could degrade unit cohesion. The wife of one Kaliningrad policemen speaking on condition of anonymity complained that she and her husband couldn’t afford to fly and would thus be kept from visiting even Russian resorts.
Vitaly Slovetsky, a Novyye Izvestiya journalist, says that siloviki [law-enforcement] commanders around the country are confiscating international passports so that their subordinates cannot travel abroad, but no other region has gone as far as Kaliningrad. Interior Ministry officials downplay this, saying only that they do not recommend foreign travel at this time and are doing so to protect the “security” of their employees.
Svetlana Postavnichaya, a press officer for the interior ministry office in Kaliningrad, told Slovetsky that it is true that police are “not recommended to travel to other states” but that “no one has prohibited trips” from Kaliningrad to Russia proper. What has happened, she said, is that commanders are asking their subordinates to provide “more detailed” itineraries in such cases.
“What this is connected with,” she continued, “we do not know.” Elsewhere in Russia, she said, the same requirement is being imposed.
Former Russian Procurator General Yuri Skuratov suggested that what is happening in Kaliningrad is typical of a longstanding Russian pattern. Moscow gives an order and then local officials “over-fulfill the plan” in order to protect themselves from charges that they haven’t carried out their orders.
Aleksandr Gurov, a retired Interior Ministry lieutenant general, agreed. He said that any effort to restrict siloviki from moving about the country would be a violation of the Constitution but acknowledged that “certain police chiefs” may not be aware of that and are thus tightening things beyond what is required.
Officials at the Kaliningrad procuracy refused to discuss the matter, Slovetsky said, and press officers at the Russian Procuracy General responded that they “did not have information about such a ban.”