Police forcefully dispersed tens of thousands of people who took part in three protests in January and early February, when Navalny returned to the country from Germany and was later jailed for two and half years.
The force has since advertised hundreds of times on recruitment websites such as HH.ru, run by the Headhunter Group, Avito and Superjob.ru. A Reuters review of the data provided by some of the recruitment firms suggests the campaign has gone well beyond any similar drive in recent years.
The special purpose mobile unit (Omon) of the Russian national guard, which works at protests across Russia, posted for jobs on Headhunter 1,607 times between 24 January and 24 February. That compared with 151 job ads in the same period last year.
Moscow’s main riot police unit, the second special regiment, posted for jobs 608 times on Headhunter in the same period, compared with 11 in 2020.
A job description for snipers for the second special regiment on Headhunter said no experience was required, and promised candidates a monthly wage of up to 70,000 roubles (£684).
The ad was first posted on Headhunter on 21 February and then republished 100 times over four days, the site’s press service said.
The Russian interior ministry did not reply to a request for comment. The Russian national guard press service said the recruitment drive was “business as usual”, and that it did not analyse whether the number of ads had gone up or not.
The number of riot police jobs posted on Avito between 26 January and 25 February was 3.7 times higher than the same period last year and the number of responses was 5.1 times higher, according to data the company shared with Reuters.
Two Omon officers reached by phone said the recruitment drive was not linked to protests but reflected a need to replace people leaving the service for new opportunities. Eight officers from the second special regiment, however, confirmed the campaign was larger than normal.
“We have a big recruitment drive,” one said.
Another officer said the intensified hiring followed a decision taken about two years ago to expand staff.