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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev visiting Bryansk OMON base in 2011
Active 1988 – present
Country  Soviet Union (originally)
Other post-Soviet states:
Branch Police (in Russia)
Type Gendarmerie, riot police
Role Tactical law enforcement, crowd control, riot control, domestic counter-terrorism, VIP protection, patrol and checkpoint duties
Size ~20,000 (in Russia)
Part of Ministry of Internal Affairss
Nickname(s) Omonovtsy, "Black Berets"
Anniversaries October 3rd
Engagements January 1991 events in Lithuania
January 1991 events in Latvia
Lithuanian border attacks
Nagorno-Karabakh War
Georgian Civil War
Tajikistan Civil War
East Prigorodny Conflict
1993 Russian constitutional crisis
First Chechen War
Second Chechen War
Jeans Revolution
Russia–Georgia War

OMON (Russian: ОМОН—Отряд мобильный особого назначения, Otryad Mobilny Osobogo Naznacheniya or Special Purpose Mobility Unit) is a system of special police units of Politsiya within the Russian, and previously Soviet, Ministry of Internal Affairs. It was created as the special forces of the Soviet Militsiya in 1988, and then played major roles in several armed conflicts during and following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Today OMON is much larger and better known than SOBR, another special police branch of the Russian Interior Ministry. In modern context, the OMON are used more like riot police, or as a gendarmerie-like paramilitary force. OMON units continue to exist in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and other post-Soviet states. However, some post-Soviet units have changed names and acronyms. OMON officers are commonly known as the omonovtsy.


  • History 1
    • Soviet OMON Activities 1.1
    • Post-Soviet OMON Activities 1.2
    • Conflict in Chechnya 1.3
  • Russian OMON 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


OMON originated in 1979, when the first Soviet SWAT-like police unit was founded in preparation for the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow to ensure that there were no terrorist incidents like the Munich massacre during the 1972 Summer Olympics. Subsequently, the unit was to be utilized in emergencies such as high-risk arrests, hostage crises and acts of terror.

The current OMON system is the successor of that group and was founded on October 3, 1988 in Moscow and was called the Militsiya Squad of Special Assignment.[1] Special police detachments were often manned by former soldiers of the Soviet Army and veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. OMON units were used as riot police to control and stop demonstrations and hooliganism, as well as to respond to emergency situations involving violent crime. The units later took on a wider range of police duties, including cordon and street patrol actions, and even paramilitary and military-style operations.

Dmitry Medvedev inspecting Bryansk OMON in 2011

Following Russia's 2011 police reform, Russian OMON units were to be renamed Distinctive Purpose Teams (KON), while OMSN (SOBR) would become Special Purpose Teams (KSN).[2] It was announced that Special Purpose Centers for Rapid Deployment forces would also be created in Russian regions, to include regional OMON and OMSN units. In essence, all police spetsnaz (special designation) units were brought together under the joint command of the Interior Ministry[3] — the Center for Operational Spetsnaz and Aviation Forces of MVD (Центр специального назначения сил оперативного реагирования и авиации МВД России). In January 2012, Russia's OMON was renamed from Otryad Militsii Osobogo Naznacheniya, (Special Purpose Militia Unit) to Otryad Mobilniy Osobogo Naznacheniya (Special Purpose Mobile Unit), keeping the acronym.

Soviet OMON Activities

  • On 20 January 1991, Soviet-loyalist Riga OMON attacked Latvia's Interior Ministry, killing six people during the January 1991 events, in a failed pro-Moscow coup attempt following the Latvian SSR's declaration of independence.[4] Seven OMON officers were subsequently found guilty by the Riga District Court and were sentenced in absentia.
  • A series of attacks on border outposts of the newly independent Republic of Lithuania took place during the period of January to July 1991. These resulted in several summary execution-style deaths of unarmed customs officers and other people (including former members of Vilnius OMON), which were attributed to Riga OMON.[5] Some sources say that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had lost control of the unit during that period. For years, Lithuania has continued to demand that the persons suspected in these incidents should be tried in Lithuania; one suspect was arrested in Latvia in November 2008.[6]
  • The April–May 1991 Operation Ring by the Azerbaijan SSR OMON and the Soviet Army against the Armenian irregular units in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, resulted in forty deaths of mostly Armenian civilians, and the forced displacement of nearly 10,000 ethnic Armenians. In later attacks, several more Armenian civilians were killed; others suffered abuse which included instances of rape. In continuing fighting in this area, fourteen Azerbaijani OMON members and one Armenian paramilitary fighter were reported killed in September 1991.[7]
  • Violent and often armed clashes occurred between the [8]

Post-Soviet OMON Activities

  • Prior to the creation of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the bulk of the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, on the Azeri side, was conducted by the post-Soviet OMON units and irregular forces. This included the defence of the village of Khojaly by a group of Azeri OMON troops and armed volunteers against the Armenian and Russian Army forces prior to, and during, the Khojaly massacre on 25 February 1992; most of the group involved died along with several hundred other Azeris, mostly civilians.
  • Tskhinvali internal affairs division militsiya officers, was reportedly the most combat-ready force on the separatist side at the outset of the South Ossetia War in April 1992.
  • In Tajikistan, the civil war began after local OMON began defecting to anti-Nabiyev protesters in May 1992.[9] The country's minority Pamiri people largely backed the United Tajik Opposition, and for that reason were targeted for massacres by pro-government forces during the bloody first phase of the war in 1992–1993. A significant portion of the Tajikistan MVD's command structure and its OMON consisted mainly of Pamiris who were then either killed or forced to flee to Gorno-Badakhshan.[10]
  • North Ossetia's OMON participated in the short but vicious 1992 East Prigorodny Conflict in Russia. They killed or 'disappeared' hundreds of local indigenous Ingush people. Ossetian OMON reportedly massacred residents of Ingush villages that had first been shelled by Russian federal army tanks that were officially in to the region for 'peacekeeping' purposes.[11]
  • Following the In 2012, the KGB of Transnistria announced it has "launched a criminal investigation into Vladimir Antyufeev who is suspected of misuse of state powers." [14][13][12]
  • Russian OMON had extensive and controversial involvement in the brutal wars in Chechnya since 1994. (See below).
  • Russia used the Dagestani OMON in a fight against Islamic separatism during the 1999 War of Dagestan and later against a continuing Islamist militant insurgency. Similar situations have also taken place in several neighbouring Muslim majority republics since the early 2000s.
OMON cracking down on a protest action in defense of Article 31 (freedom of assembly) of the Russian Constitution in Moscow in 2010
  • OMON have broken up several opposition rallies, including the Dissenters' Marches since 2006, sparking reports of police brutality, including excessive use of force and arbitrary detention of participants.[16] In 2007, the brutal actions of OMON against peaceful protesters and arrests of opposition figures were harshly criticised by the European Union institutions and governments.[17] Moscow OMON also made international news when it prevented gay rights activists (including the European Parliament members) from marching after the Mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov did not allow a planned parade to take place in 2007.[18]
  • On 24 March 2006, Belarusian OMON stormed the opposition's tent camp at Minsk's October Square without provocation, violently ending the peaceful Jeans Revolution against the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Thousands of people were beaten and hundreds detained, including the opposition's presidential candidate Alaksandr Kazulin, as a result of the attack.[19]
  • In February 2008, Tajik OMON commander Oleg Zakharchenko was killed in a shootout with an anti-organized crime police unit composed of former opposition fighters, under disputed circumstances, in Gharm.[20][21] In 2009, the former Interior Minister of Tajikistan, Mahmadnazar Salihov, allegedly committed suicide to avoid being arrested in connection with the case; Salihov's family claimed he was murdered in a political purge.[22]
  • South Ossetian separatist OMON took part in the fighting against the [24] zone.Akhalgori Subsequently, South Ossetian OMON fighters were absorbed into Russian regular forces in the area as a contract soldiers and continued to be deployed in the highly disputed [23]
  • Gulmurod Khalimov, the Russian-U.S. trained[25] OMAN chief in Tajikisam since 2012, disappeared in 2015.[26] He had defected to the Islamic State in Syria, and threatened to attack American cities.[27] He was declared wanted for treason by Tajik government.[28]

Conflict in Chechnya

The force was active in the Novosibirsk surrendered to Chechen militants of Salman Raduyev and Khunkar-Pasha Israpilov during the Kizlyar-Pervomayskoye hostage crisis;[31] Seventeen prisoners were later swapped for Chechen fighters captured by the Russian side in the same incident. In August 1996, group of about thirty ethnic Chechen members of Russian OMON answering to pro-Moscow commander Said-Magomed Kakiyev were reportedly captured and executed in Grozny by the separatist militias of Doku Umarov and Ruslan Gelayev during the battle for the city.

OMON took part in the Second Chechen War as well. OMON forces sustained severe losses in the conflict, including from the March 2000 ambush which killed scores of servicemen from Berezniki and Perm (including nine captured and executed),[32] the July 2000 suicide bombing which killed at least twenty-five Russians at Argun base of OMON from Chelyabinsk,[33] and the April 2002 mine attack which left twentyone Chechen OMON troops dead in central Grozny.[34] Control and discipline continued to be questionable in Chechnya, where the OMON members were known to have engaged in, or fallen victim to, several deadly incidents of friendly fire and fratricide. In perhaps the bloodiest of such incidents, at least twenty-four were killed when OMON from Podolsk attacked a column of OMON from Sergiyev Posad in Grozny on 2 March 2000.[35] Among other incidents, several Chechen OMON servicemen were abducted and executed in Grozny by Russian military servicemen in November 2000,[36] members of Chechen OMON engaged in a shootout with the Ingush police on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia resulting in eight fatalities in September 2006,[37] and Ramzan Kadyrov-controlled local OMON clashed with a group of rival Chechens belonging to the Kakiyev's Spetsnaz GRU military unit in Grozny, resulting in at least five being killed in 2007.

OMON was often accused of severe

  • Unofficial OMON webpage
  • The Kingdom of OMON, The eXile, 18 May 2007

External links

  1. ^ Министерство Внутренних ДелРоссийской Федерации. "MVD website, history". Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  2. ^ Moscow News, 22 August 2011: Retooling Russia's Riot Police
  3. ^ "Police spetsnaz reforms 2011". Retrieved 2013-11-23. 
  4. ^ BBC News, 27 March 2007: Timeline: Latvia
  5. ^ Pasienio apsaugos tarnyba // Fight for Independence 1990–1991 (English)
  6. ^ Novaya Gazeta, 29.11.2008: The unmasked face
  7. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report 1992: Events of 1991. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  8. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report 1992: Events of 1991. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  9. ^ From Promise to Practice. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  10. ^ Human Rights in Tajikistan: In the Wake of Civil War - Rachel Denber, Barnett R. Rubin, Jeri Laber. 1993-06-08. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  11. ^ The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order - Samuel P. Huntington. 2007-05-31. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  12. ^ Russia and the New States of Eurasia: The Politics of Upheaval - Karen Dawisha. 1994-01-28. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  13. ^ Galeotti, Mark (1970-01-01). "The Transdnistrian Connection: Big Problems from a Small Pseudo-state | Mark Galeotti" (in Polski). Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  14. ^ Michael Wines (2002-03-05). "Trans-Dniester 'Nation' Resents Shady Reputation - New York Times". Moldova; Trans-Dnestr (Moldova): Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  16. ^ Amnesty International, 16 April 2007: Russian Federation: Attack on public dissent
  17. ^ (Polish) Polska Agencja Prasowa, 26 November 2007: Milicja biła opozycję, Europa oburzona (Dziennik Polska-Europa-Świat)
  18. ^ The Associated Press, 27 May 2007: Russian Police Detain Gay Activists (The Washington Post)
  19. ^ TIME, 25 March 2006: Belarus: 'They Knocked My Husband Down and Dragged Him Away'
  20. ^ IWPR Central Asia - Central Asia. "Murder Invokes Ghosts of Tajikistan's Past - Institute for War and Peace Reporting - P220". Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  21. ^ 24 february 2014 (2008-02-04). "Tajikistan: The opposition braces itself for clashes with the regular army - Ferghana Information agency, Moscow". Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  22. ^ "Tajikistan: Former Interior Minister Commits Suicide to Preempt Arrest, Officials Insist". 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  23. ^ The Georgian Times, 15 September 2008: “Resistance does not make any sense: they will kill us on the spot”
  24. ^ Imedi TV, 16 October 2008: Ossetian militiamen join Russian regular army (trans. BBC Monitoring)
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Human Rights Watch, February 1995: Russia: Three Months of War in Chechnya
  30. ^ "Dalkhan Khozhaev" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  31. ^ The Independent, 20 January 1996: Fog of battle clouds Pervomayskoye's ugly truth
  32. ^ The Sunday Times (UK), 9 April 2000: Chechens wipe out Russia's top troops (Center for Defense Information)
  33. ^ People's Daily, 3 July 2000: Chechen Truck Bomb Kills at Least 25 Russians
  34. ^ The St. Petersburg Times, 19 April 2002: Mine Leaves 21 OMON Troops Dead
  35. ^ The Independent, 15 January 2002: Russia invented ambush by Chechens to hide friendly-fire massacre
  36. ^ European Court of Human Rights, 2007-11-15: CASE OF KUKAYEV v. RUSSIA
  37. ^ The Moscow Times, 14 September 2006: 7 Dead in Police-OMON Battle
  38. ^ The Washington Post, 2 June 2000: Civilian Massacre Fits Pattern Of Earlier Human Rights Abuse
  39. ^ Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 5 April 2000: Chechens Rub Salt in Old Wounds
  40. ^ Memorial, 1996: By All Available Means: The Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs Operation in the village of Samashki: 7–8 April 1995
  41. ^ The Independent, 6 December 1999: Rebels inflict heavy losses as Russian forces close on Grozny
  42. ^ Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 9 August 2007: Chechen Massacre Survivors See Justice
  43. ^ Human Rights Watch, June 2000: FEBRUARY 5: A DAY OF SLAUGHTER IN NOVYE ALDI
  44. ^ Los Angeles Times, 3 July 2005: An Unlikely Antiwar Hero for Russians
  45. ^ Prague Watchdog, 27 July 2007: ECHR on Russian war crimes: responses from Moscow and Grozny
  46. ^ Prima, 11 April 2005: European Court of Human Rights finds Russia guilty in disappearance of man in Chechnya
  47. ^ The St. Petersburg Times, 1 April 2005: Chechen Court Sends OMON Officer to Jail
  48. ^ Amnesty International, 31 March 2005: Russian Federation: Russian police officer found guilty of crimes against the civilian population in the Chechen Republic
  49. ^ Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 7 June 2007: Russia: Ethnic Tensions Mounting In Restive Stavropol
  50. ^, 27 June 2003: Moscow policemen want Chechen money
  51. ^ Google: "OMON soldiers" search results
  52. ^ Associated Press (2014-02-26). "Ukraine's Feared Berkut Riot Force Disbanded - ABC News". Retrieved 2014-03-03. 


  • Berkut – Ukrainian special police police successor to OMON (disbanded following a revolution in 2014[52])
  • OPON – Azerbaijani paramilitary successor to OMON (forcibly disbanded by the government security forces after an OPON revolt in 1995)
  • Internal Troops – paramilitary soldiers of the MVD in the Soviet Union and several post-Soviet states

See also

OMON vehicles include specially-equipped vans, buses and trucks of various types (often armored and sometimes equipped with mounted machine guns), as well as a limited number of armored personnel carriers (BTR-60, BTR-70 and BTR-80). OMON's headgear remains their signature black beret, (they are thus sometimes called Black Berets), which they share with the Naval Infantry. The group's members usually tend to wear either all-black or blue or gray camouflage police uniforms, but a not uncommon sight has been a variety of Russian Army and Russian Internal Troops uniforms, often with black balaclava masks and/or helmets.

OMON groups use a wide range of firearms, including but not limited to: AK-74 assault rifle, AKS-74U carbine assault rifle, 9A-91 compact assault rifle, and PP-19 Bizon submachine gun while the Makarov pistol, Stechkin automatic pistol and the MP-443 Grach are assigned as sidearms. OMON units may use other weaponry, typically used by Russian light infantry during special operations and in war zones, such as: the PK machine gun, the GP-25 underbarrel grenade launcher for assault rifle or the GM-94 pump-action grenade launcher, RPG series rocket-proppelled grenade launchers, and the Dragunov and Vintorez sniper rifles. They are in fact sometimes called "OMON soldiers".[51]

Members of OMON are required to achieve a high level of fitness and expertise in small arms and hand-to-hand combat. Males between the ages of twenty-two and thirty who have completed their two-year military service can apply to join OMON. The application includes medical and psychological tests, and tests of speed and fitness. The initial training lasts for four months. The applicants are extensively trained in the use of different weaponry and close combat, and are also trained to follow orders at any cost. Special emphasis is put on urban combat and the entering and clearing of buildings. The training also includes legal training. The application procedure closes with a final test, where the applicant has to fight three to five trained members of OMON by hand wearing boxing gloves. Fewer than one in five applicants pass and are selected to join.

In Russia, there is an OMON unit in every oblast, as well as in many major cities; for example, there is an OMON unit within the Moscow City police department, and two separate units within Moscow Oblast police department. Information from different sources suggested that there were between 10,500 and 15,000 OMON members stationed at population centers and transportation hubs around the country during the 1990s. This number officially rose to about 20,000 nationwide by 2007; the biggest OMON unit in Russia, Moscow OMON, numbers over 2,000 members. Most OMON officers retire at the age of approximately forty-five. They were also sometimes not paid for their service. In 2001, for example, some fifty OMON members from Moscow filed a lawsuit claiming they had not been paid for one month of combat operations in Chechnya.[50] Due to the use of OMON members in high risk situations, especially in Chechnya and elsewhere in the North Caucasus, the group often loses members in combat.

OMON officer fires an RPG-7 grenade launcher from the top of GAZ-233036 SPM-2 vehicle during Interpolitex-2009 exhibition
OMON in riot gear dispersing an opposition march in Moscow in 2012

Russian OMON

[49] by assisting in the racially motivated murder of a local Chechen man.Stavropol In an event related to the conflict in Chechnya, several OMON officers were also accused of starting the May 2007 wave of ethnic violence in [48] with the Grozny court criticising the conduct of the OMON serving in Chechnya in broader terms.[47] was sentenced for the kidnapping and torture of a Chechen man in Grozny in 2001,Sergei Lapin OMON officer Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug In 2007, [46], a Chechen man who had gone missing after being detained in a March 2000 security sweep by Russian OMON in Grozny.Shakhid Baysayev of forced disappearance found Russia guilty of the European Court of Human Rights In April 2006, the [45][44], was to be prosecuted in relation to the case in 2005 but he vanished.Sergei Babin one officer, [43] in which at least sixty civilians were robbed and then killed by Russian forces entering Grozny after the fall of the city;Novye Aldi massacre are believed to have been behind the February 2000 [42]Saint Petersburg OMON from [41] around forty refugees fleeing the siege of Grozny.shot dead In December 1999, a group of unidentified OMON members manning a roadblock checkpoint [40] operation by federal MVD forces.cleansing, where up to 300 civilians were reportedly killed during a large-scale brutal Samashki in the village of April 1995 rampage Moscow region OMON took part in the [39]

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