Protecting the Criminals

The recent mass murder in Krasnodar Krai of 12 people, including four children who were burned alive, has seized the attention of the country.  It’s not the cruelty of the act which has raised such a fuss – horrific violence has become a bit too common – rather it’s the point that Sergei Tsapok’s brutal gang has been doing this kind of work in the region for 20 years with the complicity and protection of the police and local leadership.  So profound is the corruption, that a mid-level police investigator has preemptively taken to YouTube a la Dymovsky to warn President Medvedev that the law enforcement elites will attempt to pin the blame on the Tsapok protection racket on low-level personnel and carry on as usual.  The gangster himself will probably count upon some kind of early release on bail or a dismissal of the case on a technicality. If he were successfully prosecuted, that would be a first.

Recommended reading on this one over at The Economist, A Good Treaty, and Brian Whitmore at The Power Vertical, who had this to say:

The “criminal vertical” Gudkov describes is therefore dependent upon Putin’s vaunted power vertical — and vice versa.

As my colleague Robert Coalson has blogged here, the Kremlin elite needs loyal police and prosecutors to fix elections and keep themselves in power — and the price of that is tolerating a level of impunity and corruption.

To address the cancer exposed by Kushchevskaya, not only will some very big heads need to roll, but the very nature of Russia’s political system will need to change dramatically.