Russian President Vladimir Putin could be forging a "personal" army to deal with rising domestic tensions, according to analysts who have been watching an overhaul of the country's security services.
Executive orders published by the Kremlin this month proposed the creation of a new National Guard, which will be led by Putin's former bodyguard, Viktor Zolotov, who would report directly to the president himself.
The guard will draw on internal troops from the country's interior ministry, and has been described by Russian media as a major reorganization of the country's security services.
Kremlin documents say the new body will serve in part as a counter terrorism force and ensure national and public security, as well as guard governmental facilities and protect state borders. It is also expected to help enforce any state of emergency and "carry out other relevant tasks."
While the creation of the National Guard has long been expected, some critics have suggested that the timing is particularly suspicious, given upcoming parliamentary elections this September and a presidential ballot slated for 2018.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said he couldn't explain the timing, but has rejected claims that it was linked to Duma elections or the mistrust of existing law enforcement, according to a BBC report. Peskov did not immediately respond to CNBC when contacted by email.