The Presidential Regiment (or Kremlin Regiment) is a unique military regiment. It has the job of ensuring the security of the highest state officials and guarding the Kremlin and its treasures.
The regiment is part of the Federal Guard Service and has the status of a special service. It is directly under the command of the President - the Commander in Chief.
The Kremlin Regiment has an eventful history and glorious military traditions.
The founding of the Presidential Regiment dates back to April 8, 1936, when, in accordance with Order No. 122 for the Moscow Kremlin garrison, the Special Purpose Battalion was renamed the Special Purpose Regiment. The regiment celebrates its anniversary on May 7. Every year on this date the regiment puts on a special parade for the President.
When the Soviet government moved from Petrograd to Moscow in 1918, the Kremlin was guarded by Latvian riflemen, who were under the command of the Kremlin Commandant. In September 1918, the Latvian riflemen were sent to the front and were replaced by students from the machine gunners’ courses at Lefortovo. In January 1919, these machine gunners’ courses were reorganized into courses to train commanding officers for the Red Army. This was how a “red commanders’” school came to be established in the Kremlin. The military students were dubbed “Kremlin Students” and were responsible for guarding the Kremlin, acting as bodyguards for state and government officials, organizing security at state and government meetings with foreign representatives, controlling entry to the Kremlin and keeping order on its territory.
During the Civil War and foreign intervention of 1918-1922, apart from guarding the Kremlin, the military school was occupied with the needs of the front. Under a decision of the Soviet government, an obelisk was erected on the Kremlin grounds to commemorate the school’s students and officers who fell in battle near Orekhovo and Sinelnikovo. From 1924 to 1935, the Kremlin students stood guard at the entrance to the Lenin Mausoleum after a Communist Party decision establishing a guard of honor there. From 1935 until October 1993, the Kremlin regiment was responsible for the guard of honor.
Because training for military officers needed to be improved, the school was relocated from the Kremlin in October 1935, and the Special Purpose Battalion took over the job of security. The battalion was part of the Kremlin Commandant’s Directorate, which by virtue of a government order was taken out from under the jurisdiction of the People’s Commissariat for Defense and handed over to the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD). In 1936 the battalion was renamed the Special Purpose Regiment.
When the Great Patriotic War began in 1941, the units of the Kremlin Commandant’s Office were made responsible for defending the Kremlin, where the State Defense Committee and Chief Military Headquarters were located. The Kremlin Regiment defended the Kremlin against attacks by enemy aircraft right from the first days of the war. On June 25, 1941, the commandant ordered the regiment to reinforce the defenses, and the regiment set up round-the-clock guard on the Kremlin walls.
In 1942-1943, four groups of snipers from the Kremlin Regiment were sent to the western and Volkhov fronts. The snipers killed a total of more than 1,200 enemy soldiers and officers. The regiment lost 97 men during the war, and their names are engraved on a memorial plaque in the Arsenal. On February 23, 1944, the Kremlin Regiment was decorated with the Red Banner of Combat – a symbol of military honor and glory. Three battalions from the regiment took part in the historic Victory Parade on Red Square on June 24, 1945.
In 1952, the regiment was reorganized into the Separate Special Purpose Regiment. On May 7, 1965, it was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner for its military achievements during the Great Patriotic War and its excellent results in military training and political education. On May 8, 1967, the regiment took part in the ceremony unveiling the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Alexandrovsky Gardens. In 1973, the regiment was renamed the Separate Red Banner Kremlin Regiment on the order of the chairman of the KGB.
The regiment finally came to be called the Presidential Regiment in accordance with a presidential decree of March 20, 1993. Since that time, the regiment’s First Company (the honor guard company formed on July 6, 1976) has been responsible for protocol events.
In accordance with a federal law of December 8, 1997, “On Immortalizing the Soviet People’s Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945,” the Presidential Regiment maintains a guard of honor at the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
On May 7, 2000, the regiment took part in ceremonies to mark the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin. President Putin reviewed the regiment on the Kremlin’s Sobornaya Ploshchad (Cathedral Square) on the occasion of its 65th anniversary on May 7, 2001.
The Presidential Regiment is housed in the historic Arsenal building. The Arsenal was commissioned by Peter the Great in 1701. Construction began on the site of grain storage sheds that had burned down and dismantled boyars’ quarters in the western part of the Kremlin between the Troitskaya and Nikolskaya Towers. The architects who worked on the building were M.Choglokov, M.Remezov, D.Ivanov and C.Conrad. Peter the Great wanted the building to serve not just as an arsenal, but also as a military museum. Today parade ground and sports hall are the closed-off courtyard of the building.