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10 Nov, 2009 12:06

ROAR: Cop goes online to address prime minister

ROAR: Cop goes online to address prime minister

A video blog posted by a police officer and addressed to the prime minister has turned into a major scandal on the eve of Russia’s national police day.

In two videos posted on November 7 police major Aleksey Dymovsky accused his chiefs and colleagues of corruption. He also asked Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to carry out an independent investigation of possible cases of corruption throughout Russia.

The videos have attracted the attention of thousands of Russian internet users. However, so far the blog post appears to have backfired on Dymovsky. The Interior Ministry ordered an internal check of the Novorossiysk police. The facts mentioned in the videos “have not been confirmed,” the ministry said.

Moreover, Dymovsky was fired by the local police chief for “slander” and defaming his colleagues. The officer, however, is insisting that many of his colleagues support him.

The Russian police have been sharply criticized in recent months for violent incidents involving officers. The most notorious so far have been Major Denis Yevsyukov’s shooting in a Moscow supermarket in April, the killing of a teenager by a traffic police officer in the Republic of Tyva. and the murder of a girl by a criminal police officer in the city of Omsk in October.

Given society’s increased concern over the incidents and the ever-increasingly tarnished image of the police, it was expected that there would be some kind of reaction from “ordinary cops”, the Russian media say. The video address of the police major from Novorossiysk “has turned into a story of federal significance,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said.

Publishing his address three days before the national police day, which is marked on November 10, Dymovsky urged “his colleagues, honest police officers” to challenge their superiors.” On this day, he arrived to Moscow to hold a press conference.

Human rights activists in Novorossiysk have supported Dymovsky. Commenting on their stance, Kirill Martynov from the Higher School of Economics said that they were acting in an appropriate way, because the officer could have only been sacked “on a court order.” Martynov told Actualcomment.ru website that “The actions of the Novorossiysk police department are increasingly persuading us that there are grounds to believe Dymovsky’s video.”

The Russian Public Chamber has already taken “The Dymovsky Case” under its control. Member of the chamber Anatoly Kucherena said that all the facts mentioned by Dymovsky, would be considered. “If need be, we are ready to defend this officer from possible sanctions and persecution,” Kucherena said.

State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov said the facts mentioned by Dymovsky should be closely checked. “If what Dymovsky said is confirmed, concrete measures should be urgently taken,” he told journalists on November 10.

Gryzlov said that corruption should be fought, but at the same time he stressed that many police officers “risk their lives every day.”

However, Pavel Salin, analyst at the Center for Political Conjuncture, described the video address to the prime minister as “another information attack against Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev.”

The previous attack, launched after Major Yevsyukov shot people in a Moscow supermarket, “stopped without achieving its goals,” Salin said. But the Russian Interior Ministry remains a weak spot in the system of power, the analyst added, referring to the lack of professionalism of police officers.

Public opinions of the motives of Dymovsky’s action are mixed. Some people believe that he was under threat of being fired and tried to defend himself with the video. Others believe that he was “fed up” with the injustice and tried to make his views public, Actualcomment.ru said.

Dymovsky’s video address came after an internal check had been initiated against him, the internal security department of the Interior Ministry said. Moreover, some “non-governmental organizations financed from abroad” might have supported him, the department said.

The chosen means, format and timing of the publication of the video address “evidence that Dymovsky enjoys support from third parties,” a source in the department told Interfax news agency.

State Duma deputy from the Communist Party Viktor Ilyukhin doubts the impartiality of the check that has been conducted by police after Dymovsky’s video address. At the same time, the fact that the police officer made his statements on the eve of the national police day was pure coincidence, Ilyukhin told Rosbalt news agency. Police officers are themselves “tired of working that way,” he added.

Aleksey Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies believes that the appearance of Dymovsky’s adress on the eve of the police day was not accidental. The interior minister had already asked his subordinates “to do away with corruption,” Makarkin said.

“Dymovsky’s report that corruption has not been defeated looks like an honest answer to the minister from ordinary officers of the Interior Ministry,” Makarkin told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The analyst stressed that after Dymovsky’s statements were published by the federal media, “they will entail serious consequences.”

The analyst does not expect quick and significant changes in the Russian police. “The system itself and many of his colleagues have already opposed Dymovsky,” Makarkin told Politcom.ru website.

“At the same time, I think that one should expect decisions of the authorities,” the analyst said. “The changes may occur only after political decisions,” he stressed. “Dymovsky’s statement has become one of the links in a chain of events that may stimulate these changes.”

The possibility of taking political decisions has risen because President Dmitry Medvedev has made fighting corruption one of his priorities, Makarkin said. He added that a number of anticorruption laws had already been adopted. “However, the results of Medvedev’s work will be estimated according to their effectiveness rather than the laws adopted,” Makarkin said. So, the president has an incentive for taking real decisions, he added.

In his address dedicated to national police day, Nurgaliev said that 2009 has been “a complicated and hard year for the Russian police.” He recognized that there were cases of abuse of power and low morals among police officers.

Nurgaliev is interested in getting things put in order, State Duma deputy and Police Colonel Aleksandr Kulikov told Rosbalt. One of the causes of the present situation is the fact that police officers do not feel socially protected themselves, he said, referring to their low payment and lack of benefits.

The Dymovsky story has confirmed one more time that the professionalism of police officers and their observance of lawfulness “have long turned into a crying problem,” Kulikov added.

Sergey Borisov, RT