I am at the ends of my research on this. What I wanted to do is put this out there to see if anyone has anything to add to this? I do not speak or read Russian or follow Russian legal stuff. I do try to follow what countries are actually doing with private forces though.
In the past I have posted about Russia wanting to legalize PMSC’s and the legal effort seemed to go nowhere. The Slavonic Corps in Syria highlighted the idea that legally speaking, Russian law had not caught up with Russia’s use of PMSC’s. I believe that Ukraine and Syria have become testbeds for Russia’s use of private forces, and it makes sense that their use would finally be legalized.
The other reason why I bring this up, is apparently Russia has been awarding medals to contractors that were killed in places like Syria? That sounds like official recognition of private forces to me.
Back to this Law No. 53 mentioned below. Does it cancel out Article 348 of the Russian Criminal Code, which makes mercenary work illegal? I only have this one article from Zeit Online that talks about this deal. Here is the clip below. –Matt
Edit: 02/08/2017 RT reported that the Duma passed some legislation in December of last year, which aligns with the time period that Zeit discusses. Check it out here.
A Little Known Change in the Law (February 6, 2017)
Two days before the new year, Vladimir Putting signed a legal amendment. The state-aligned media reported very little about the development and the foreign press hasn’t covered it at all yet. But it could have far-reaching consequences. The change was made to Law No. 53, pertaining to military conscription in Russia. Following the change, the law now states that anyone who has completed basic military service or is a reservist is to be considered a member of the Russian military if that person “prevents international terrorist activities outside the territory of the Russian Federation.”
Given that almost every man in Russia completes military service after finishing school, the new law pertains to almost all Russian men. If they fight against terrorists, they are now considered to be members of the military, even if they don’t officially belong to a unit of the Russian military under the control of the Defense Ministry. In other words: Law No. 53 permits the deployment of Russian mercenaries around the world and allows for augmenting the Russian military with private military firms. The law went into force on Jan. 9, 2017.