The Moscow branch of the OMON riot police have received an unusual 25th birthday present, the personalised domain name omon.ru. The squad, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary, is planning to use the domain to create a social network whereby the squad can share riot policing experiences. The domain name was recently bought by the Reg.ru domain name registrar and re-registered it to the OMON riot squad yesterday. According to co-owner of Reg.ru, Filipp Gross-Dneprov Izvestia:
We need to increase the prestige of police work, including through social sites. We must show that these guys are risking their lives and demonstrate how tough their training is: mastering hand-to-hand combat skills, storming buildings and holding tactical drills.
The squad, which has publicly endorsed its birthday present, released this statement:
We plan to create a multifunctional website. It will probably have a forum for OMON members and educational games for other visitors. Muscovites will be able to play at being an OMON policeman, learning hand-to-hand combat skills and the legal aspects of our work, or trying to detain a criminal.
Other suggestions for the site include creating memorial pages for deceased colleagues and providing an area to poll the squad members, asking them what they dislike about their work and what problems they have.
Many OMON squad members use social media sites, like Twitter, under assumed names because their superiors have warned them against registering under their own names. For the same reason, they never discuss service issues or post their photographs on social sites. This new domain name birthday present may boost moral by giving them the freedom to be themselves.