Saturday, September 04, 2010

Increasing numbers of Russian police become criminals

67 percent of Russians say they fear the police, and this article gives very good reasons why. Kidnapping, extortion, torture, doing favors for the mob, the police re part of Russia's culture of corruption. Officers who extort money from civilians are reported to earn 5,000 to 10,000 dollars per month, and an officer protecting a "criminal operation," aka the feared Russian mob, can earn up to 20,000 dollars per month. One Moscow police major even turned to attempted mass murder, killing two and wounding 22 after randomly opening fire in a supermarket. Although several senior police officials have been dismissed in the wake of the high profile cases, the Russian people, along with the rest of the world, have doubts that President Medvedev will, or can, do anything significant to counteract the out of control police force. In a country where journalists have been murdered after printing stories critical of the government, former spy Aleksander Litvenenko was poisoned after implicating Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and others in corruption, and the citizens are influenced and terrorized by organized crime, law enforcement is adding to, rather than solving, these problems.
While it seems that what the Russian police need is another Frank Serpico, the Litvenenko case illustrates how Russian officials deal with dissent. Two officers have publicized the wrongdoing that is routine within the force; one was fired, the other arrested on numerous, unpublicized charges. The fired officer, in addition to revealing chronic corruption in his force, also complained about working conditions, saying officers were treated "like cattle." The officer who was arrested claimed that police fabricated evidence that led to convictions. He was arrested shortly after posting the video making his charges.