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    Police crime must be dealt with harshly - Putin

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    Police crime must be dealt with relentlessly but there should be no discrediting of the force, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

    Police crime must be dealt with relentlessly but there should be no discrediting of the force, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

    "I think it is inadmissible to tarnish all police officers, but responses to negative occurrences in the sphere should be harsh, rapid and tough," the Russian premier said during an annual televised question-and-answer session with Russians.

    Putin was asked to comment on calls to carry out Interior Ministry reform in connection with recent high-profile cases of police crime, including this April's supermarket shooting spree which left three people dead.

    "Both society and the Interior Ministry should actively fight these occurrences, and if people with [police] epaulets break the law, they should face strict punishment for these violations," Putin said.

    On April 27 Denis Yevsyukov, who then was a police major, took a taxi to the Ostrov supermarket in southern Moscow shortly after midnight, where he shot the driver dead, before walking into a store and killing two more people and wounding six.

    The April incident prompted the dismissals of a number of top police officials. The government has pledged checks of officers and other measures to improve police discipline.

    Putin said the Interior Ministry now employs over 1 million people, more than Russia's armed forces.

    MOSCOW, December 3 (RIA Novosti)