A much heralded reform of Russia’s police force has failed to produce immediate results, with officers committing almost 70 crimes in the last ten days, according to figures released by the country’s Investigation Committee.
Russia’s militsiya (militia) were renamed politsiya (police) on August 1. The renaming was part of a massive shake-up of the country’s often-criticized force. Officers have been charged or convicted in the last few years of numerous crimes, including a shooting spree in a Moscow supermarket, the beheading of a suspect, burning a suspect alive, child sex abuse and rape.
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev – who once advised Russians to give as good as they get if attacked for no reason by an officer – boasted last week, however, that the reforms had stamped out for good police crime.
“Bribe-taking, abuse of office, corruption and all the negatives have been left in the past…only the best of the best remain!” he said.
President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this week that he was “on the whole, satisfied with the how the reform of the law enforcement system had gone.”
He also suggested the reform would lead to a force made up of “normal, respectable people.”
Among the 67 crimes included in the figures released by the Investigation Committee for August 21-September 1 was the beating to death of 41-year-old Oleg Bichkov by police officers in the Urals city of Perm.
Bichkov – who was scalped and attacked with baseball bats and truncheons – was so badly disfigured that his mother was unable to identify him. A group of ten officers attacked his family home after his wife was involved in a quarrel with an officer’s wife in bar.
Of the seven officers involved in the attack, only three will face charges.
Other police crimes listed for the period concerned by the Investigation Committee – an organization separate from the police force - included torture and an attempt to steal a bag containing almost some $50,000 from a man who had just sold his apartment.