Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed into law a bill significantly cutting the number of police officers in Russia and introducing reforms intended to improve the image of the country's law enforcement system.
The law, which changes the name of Russian law enforcers from the Russian "militsiya" to "politsiya" and introduces a three-stage selection tests for police candidates, will come into force from March 1, Medvedev said during a meeting with Interior Ministry officials on Monday.
The law stipulates that the number of Russian police officers will be lowered by 20 percent by January 1, 2012.
The bill, which has been open for public debate for several months, was approved by the upper house of the Russian parliament on February 2. The lower house, the State Duma, passed it on January 28.
"This is a long-awaited event, and I congratulate all those present on it," Medvedev said during Monday's meeting, adding that the new law was just the first step in his large-scale reformation plan intended to strengthen partnership between law enforcers and society.
He said he was planning to sign "an entire range or decrees in the near future" to continue Interior Ministry reforms.
The state of Russia's police has raised concern after a number of high-profile incidents, including the random shooting of several people in a supermarket by an off-duty police officer in April 2009.
In response to growing criticism, Medvedev ordered a large-scale reform of the police department in December 2009, including cuts in officer numbers and the increase of salaries.
MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti)