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After Brezhnev's assumption of power, responsibility for stepping up internal repression was put in the hands of the USSR Ministry for the Maintenance of Public Order created in July, 1966.1 The powers of this ministry were considerably broadened, while the legal guarantees of an accused person were reduced. 2 The attack on civil rights, freedoms, and legal guarantees was carried out under the slogan of intensifying the struggle against "antisocial manifestations," in other words, all manifestations of dissatisfaction with the Soviet regime. The newly created ministry and its local organs were given the task of carrying out administrative surveillance of persons freed from places of confinement and exerting "the necessary influence" on them. This amounted, in practice, to extending sentences by purely extralegal (administrative) police methods.
The Brezhnev regime found it necessary to take this step because the RSFSR Criminal Code that came into force on November 1, 1951, (and the criminal codes of other republics) had reduced the maximum terms of deprivation of freedom from twenty or twenty-five years3 to ten or, in the case of especially grave
* Translation of RS 228/83.
1. See Decree No. 594 of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet of July 26, 1966 (Vedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR, No. 30, 1966).
2. For example, Decree No. 595 of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet "On Increasing Criminal Liability for Hooliganism" (Vedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR, No. 30, 1966) replaced the normal preliminary investigation with a speeded-up administrative investigation.
3. Article 28 of the RSFSR Criminal Code of 1926 as amended by decrees of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet of June 4, 1947 (Vedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR, No. 19, 1947).