MOSCOW (AP) — Russian lawmakers have given tentative approval to forming a national guard, with some saying the Kremlin needs it as a tool against possible unrest.
Members of the lower house, the State Duma, endorsed the bill Wednesday in the first of three required readings, with only the communists speaking out against it.
President Vladimir Putin announced forming a national guard last month, saying his former chief bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov, would oversee it. Putin said the force would focus on the fight against extremism and organized crime, but some observers saw its creation as a reflection of Kremlin fears of possible anti-government protests amid an economic downturn.
Communist Vyacheslav Tetekin said during Wednesday's debate that setting up a national guard is linked to the worsening social and economic situation in the country.