Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

In Russia: People Are More Afraid Of Cops Than Of Criminals

Posted by Info on 28/02/2011

Russia aims to reform corrupt police
One Story: A.Yakimov’s troubles had started with a dispute over turf among taxi drivers in this provincial capital east of Moscow. One side called in its protection — its “roof” in Russia’s street slang — two drunken cops in civilian clothes, who dragged Yakimov off to the police station.When they finished with him there, they intended to drop him where no one would ever find him.… he felt the icy water in his nostrils, eyes and ears shocking him into one last push for the surface. Above, a jagged hole traced 10 feet of open water…When Yakimov broke the surface, his bruised face rested in the snow and the pain shot back into his broken arm and dislocated shoulder. His tormentors were a police captain and a senior lieutenant.

It’s a familiar story in Russia, a land where, in the words of reform-minded parliament member Andrei Makarov, the police “are conducting a war against their own people.” A quarter of Russians who answered a recent poll said they had personal knowledge of cases in which police beat or tortured people.

According to official police statistics: Internal security reported 125,000 violations of rules or laws by police in 2010 and said that more than 4,000 criminal cases were initiated.

Yakimov survived to see them prosecuted. While waiting for the trial, he faced threats of reprisals, a failed attempt by armed men in masks to arrest him, and what he suspects was an effort by another police officer to kidnap his 8-year-old daughter. A little more after one year they were found guilty of abusing their office, and each received a three-year sentence.Yakimov’s arm was so badly mangled that he can’t drive anymore.

“People are more afraid of the cops than they are afraid of criminals and thugs in the streets,” he said.

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