By Paul Goble
As soon as the Duma reconvenes in the new year, pro-Kremlin deputies plan to submit legislation governing the possession of guns by the population in the DNR, LNR, Zaprozhye and Kherson oblasts of Ukraine. The measure as drafted appears intended to disarm the population in these newly occupied territories.
Specifically, the draft bill orders that anyone in these territories reregister guns over the next year. Failure to do so will prevent owners from purchasing ammunition and may result in fines or other penalties. Anyone who doesn’t reregister weapons will likely have them confiscated with or without compensation (ng.ru/politics/2022-12-22/1_8622_control.html).
The fact that such a measure has been prepared highlights a problem few outsiders have focused on: the civilian population in these regions is in many cases heavily armed. Not surprisingly, Russian officials want to change that both to increase their control and limit the flow of weapons into the Russian Federation.
That flow is large and will only increase now that the Russian authorities are no longer maintaining border controls between these regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation itself. (On that problem, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2022/11/guns-from-putins-war-in-ukraine-leading.html and jamestown.org/program/guns-bleed-back-into-russia-from-ukraine-sparking-spike-in-violent-crime/.)
The Duma debate on this issue should be instructive as Russia has a large and vocal gun lobby, many of whose members view any restrictions on gun ownership as opening the way to complete confiscation anyway. That Moscow now intends something like that in the occupied territories is thus a challenge to the lobby in Russia.