Russians Don’t Trust Police

Some interesting statistics in the Moscow Times: 82 percent of Russians say police officers are ready to break the law, according to a state-run polling agency. And 32 percent say officers regularly commit crimes. Funnily enough, the Interior Ministry is proposing to give police more rights, making them virtually unpunishable. That should help earn the public’s trust.

Proposals about granting more rights to policemen serve only to worsen the public’s opinion of them, said Alexander Volkov, a retired police general and a State Duma deputy. “There should be no untouchables. It only further corrupts the police,” he said.

[Russia’s] police reform, which was set in motion by President Dmitry Medvedev in December, aims to cut the 1.4 million-member police force by 20 percent and to halve the personnel at the Interior Ministry’s headquarters by 2012.

Medvedev also demanded that regional police forces be held more responsible by the ministry’s central office, which could break up ties that connect corrupt police officials with equally corrupt local bureaucrats.

But Mark Feigin, a lawyer, said those measures were not enough. Hesaid only the decentralization of the local police and popularelections for the heads of police precincts — which are not in thecards at present — could produce substantial change.

Meanwhile, police officials have tried to fend off the mountingpublic backlash through Soviet-era methods such as the publication of acalendar of “good deeds” carried out by the police on the InteriorMinistry’s web site. Another ploy saw posters praising brave policemenplastered around major cities.