Learn more about Internal Troops
Internal Troops, full name Internal Troops of the Ministry for Internal Affairs (Russian: Внутренние войска Министерства внутренних дел, Vnutrenniye Voiska Ministerstva Vnutrennikh Del; abbreviated ВВ, VV) is the uniformed gendarmerie-like force in the now-defunct Soviet Union and its successor countries, particularly, in Russia and Ukraine. Internal Troops are subordinated to Internal Affairs Ministries (police) of the respective countries. They are used to deal with large-scale riots, internal armed conflicts, prison security (except in Russia) and safeguarding of highly-important facilities (like nuclear power plants). As such, the force is involved in all conflicts and violent disturbances in the history of Soviet Union and modern Russia, including Stalin's mass deportations, imprisonments and executions and Chechen war.
 History of the Soviet Internal Troops
The history of the Internal Troops can be traced back to March 27, 1811, when Emperor Alexander I merged the regional military companies present in every Russian gubernia (administrative region) into battalions of Internal Guards.
The Internal Troops as such were formed in 1919 under the Cheka (later NKVD, and were known as "NKVD Troops"), remained there with all the mergers and splittings of Soviet state security services and ended up under the control of the police-like MVD.
As an internal security and prisons guard force, Internal Troops played immediate roles in political repressions and war crimes through all the Soviet history. Particularly, they were responsible for maintaining the regime in the GULAG labor camps and for conducting the mass deportations of several ethnic groups.
 World War II
During World War II, most units of the NKVD Internal Troops were engaged alongside Red Army forces against Axis troops. They participated in the defense of Moscow, Leningrad, the Brest Fortress, Kiev, Odessa, Voronezh, Stalingrad, the North Caucasus and were heavily engaged during the battle of Kursk.
Typically, NKVD Troops played the role of barrier troops, preventing regular troops on the lines from disobedience and desertion. However, they engaged enemy in cases of urgent need and sometimes experienced heavy losses. Large VV units stayed in the rear to maintain order, fight enemy infiltrators and guard GULAG camps.
Altogether, more than 53 Internal Troops divisions and 20 Internal Troops brigades were on active duty during the war. 18 units were awarded battle honors (military decorations or honorary titles). A total of 977,000 servicemen were killed in action. More than 100,000 soldiers and officers received awards for gallantry in the face of the enemy, 295 servicemen were awarded the "Hero of the Soviet Union" title.
 Post-war Soviet Union
With the end of Stalin's era and relative humanization of social life, Internal Troops became significantly reduced but retained their pre-war functions, the most important of which was prison security.
After the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, Internal Troops units were among liquidators, engaged in security and emergency management activities. Hundreds of servicemen were exposed to heavy radiation, and dozens died.
In the 1990s, Internal Troops became engaged in the ethnic conflicts that occurred during the Dissolution of the Soviet Union, experiencing significant losses. Such engagements started with the 1989 violent incident in Tbilisi when VV servicemen used entrenching shovels to decimate a crowd of unarmed civilians. Dozens of protesters were killed and injured in the incident.
After the fall of Soviet Union, local Internal Troops units were resubordinated to the respective new independent states. Russian Federation and Ukraine retained the name, organization and tasks of their Internal Troops, while troops evolution in other former Soviet republics is unclear.
 General organization
Despite being subordinated to a civilian militsiya authority, Internal Troops are a military force with centralized system of ranks, command and service. The Chief Commander and Staff of the troops report only to Ministry of Internal Affairs, maintaining their separate chain of command. VV units in Soviet Union were predominantly formed up of conscripts drafted by the same system as for the Soviet Army. Modern Troops in Russia and Ukraine are experiencing a slow transition to the contract personnel system. VV officers are trained in both own special academies and Army's military academies.
Fields units are essentially light motorized infantry, similar to respective regular army units by their organization and weapons.
Soviet prison security units (Russian: конвойные войска, konvoynyie voyska; criminal slang: vertuhai) were originally consisting of the units that guard the perimeters of the prisons, and the prisoner transport teams (actually konvoi, literally "convoy"). In post-Soviet countries, some or all of the prison-related tasks were transferred to other agencies.
 Internal Troops in Russia
Currently, the primary role of the Russian Internal Troops is their large-scale participation in the Second Chechen War.
The Organization of the Russian Internal Troops comprises Internal troop Commands, Formations, Military Units, Military Training Institutions and the Institutions for Internal Troops Activities, Maintenance, and Bodies of Internal Troops Administration. The largest units are the Regiment and the units that are located in all major cities.
Strength has also fluctuated and was about 350,000 at its height. It consists of both two year conscripts and volunteers. It officers graduated from at least four schools. Rumors abound of an officer shortage since 1998.
- National Defence - conducts rear area security operations and all military operations within national borders, counter-intelligence authority in wartime.
- Security - Guard "key" state institutions (except for the Kremlin and the highest echelons of the government), nuclear facilities, special storage depots, and military bases.
- Counter-terrorist operations (VV Special Forces units such as Rus)
- Military police functions
- Public Order - Assist the militsiya for riot control operations when OMON units are not available.
- Prisoner Transport - In Soviet times, also guarded and operated the Gulag. Today: convict convoyage and transport.
- Possible counterweight to the military, especially during the Soviet era.
The Internal troops are trained as Military police with Motorized rifle and crowd control techiniques.
 Internal Troops in Ukraine
Internal Troops units in Ukraine were initially reorganized into the National Guard of Ukraine - an interim national military while the Armed Forces were under formation. But later the troops evolutioned back to their traditional tasks, and finally the name, as the National Guard was liquidated. Like in the Soviet Union and Russia, Ukrainian Internal Troops remain subordinated to the national militsiya authority, the MVS.
- "Internal Troops of the MVD SSSR", by William Fuller
- "Soviet Union, a County Study", by the Library of Congress