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True detectives The precarious, not altogether lucrative, and often illegal life of Russia’s private investigators June 29, 2020 – Anna Shnygina for Meduza


(Source: Meduza –

Some excerpts are below which may be of specific interest in terms of regulation, and specific access rights for regulated PI’s.

Today in Russia, there are more than 900 detective agencies, as well as an enormous number of self-described private investigators who gather financial, economic, and legal intelligence without ever notifying the authorities.

In fact, many detectives constantly break the law, violating criminal statutes that technically prohibit activities that are essential to their investigative work.

Meduza special correspondent Sasha Sulim spoke to several detectives about their lives and the intricacies of their craft, including one man who’s played a private eye on television and done the job for real on the streets of Moscow.

Police Inspector Nasonov and his friends

Until 2018, the Interior Ministry was responsible for licensing private detectives in Russia.

Today, this authority belongs to the National Guard, which created licensing and permitting divisions that oversee the country’s registered detectives.

To get a license now, you need to be older than 21 and have a law degree or experience in law enforcement.

Any criminal record (even misdemeanors), history of mental disorders, alcohol or drug addictions, or dishonorable dismissal from public service is immediately disqualifying.

Licenses are good for five years.

One of the biggest paradoxes of detective work in Russia is that private eyes cannot follow people without first notifying them about it and obtaining their written consent.

As a result, explains Oleg Pytov, Russian detectives must resort to certain tricks in their interpretations of the law: “Every law has a loophole.

If I’m driving in my car behind some other vehicle and I’ve got a video recorder running, who’s to say I’m tailing a particular person? Maybe that’s just the route I’m going.”

Last fall, representatives of Russia’s detective community got an early look at draft legislation to overhaul how their profession is regulated.

Written by United Russia deputy Anatoly Vyborny, the bill would separate the guidelines for detective and security-guard work (currently based on a law adopted in 1992) and endow private investigators “with not only responsibilities but also clearly defined rights.”

Vyborny told Meduza that reforming these regulations is long overdue and said he plans to introduce his draft legislation in the State Duma soon.

“There are roughly a thousand detectives registered in Russia today — 995 to be precise,” he explained.

“But we know that there are actually far more people working in this field.

Every year, more and more individuals and businesses turn to the services of private detectives.”

One clause of the draft legislation lays out the concept of “detective secrets,”

which Vyborny defines as information related to private investigative services rendered to a client that the detective cannot disclose without the client’s consent, including when the detective collaborates with law enforcement.

The bill would also permit detectives registered in Russia to perform their services abroad and not just on home soil.

Vyborny says his reforms would grant detectives several other needed rights, as well, allowing them to join formal organizations and stop working “in singles”

(where each private eye acts as a self-employed entrepreneur); to meet with suspects and defendants to collect case information (with permission from state investigators or the courts and an agreement with the individual being questioned); to collect information for the purposes of filing a lawsuit or police report; and to search for missing persons, debtors and their property, and children (with the appropriate enforcement paperwork).

“The new legislation could bring us closer to the civilized countries that have private investigators,” says Olesya Pukhova.

“For example, we’d be able to submit formal requests, which should reduce the effort needed to get information.

For example, women have come to us time and again, wanting to check their domestic partners for criminal records.

We’ve had to devise some pretty roundabout ways to do this, since we don’t currently have the right to file such requests.

Meanwhile, it’s often turned out that the police have been looking for the husband for a long time, frequently on major felony charges.”

Russia’s private detectives would also welcome additional powers when it comes to searching for missing persons.

“We sometimes hear from friends and relatives before the police open a case,” explains Yulia Trufanova.

“If we had access to certain databases and we could work jointly with the police, we could locate people much faster.”

Today, because private investigators aren’t considered subjects of criminal intelligence and surveillance operations, they’re granted zero formal police access and any information they collect independently is inadmissible as evidence in court.

Anna Shnygina for Meduza

Story by Sasha Sulim, edited by Alexey Yablokov Translation by Kevin Rothrock The full articled can be read at;