Navigation – Plan du site
Police Brutality & Police Reform in Russia and the CIS - Articles (5)

Youtube Cops and Power Without Limits : Understanding Police Violence in 21st Century Russia

Yulia Chistyakova et Annette Robertson

Résumé

This paper explores the problem of police violence in contemporary Russia by reviewing research on police violence, drawing on Internet coverage of the issue and analysing relevant examples. In recent years the problems of police abuse of power, torture, cruelty and other crimes perpetrated by police officers (violence, drug dealing, extortion, and collusion with criminal groups) have been frequently discussed in the mass media, highlighted by human rights activists, and studied by social scientists. Police power has been frequently characterised as power “without limits” (bespredel) and it has recently been argued that the Russian police represent an example of “predatory” policing. The paper examines the various dimensions of police violence, provides a typology of violence and looks at the ways in which the use of the Internet, including YouTube and blogs has added a new dimension to the discussion of police violence and more general misconduct. The Internet is considered as an increasingly important form of addressing such issues when official avenues prove unresponsive and ineffective. Finally, it is argued that the significance of such new media constructions lies in their capacity to carry a deeper message about the ways in which power and violence (including the condoning of it) go hand in hand in today’s Russia.

Haut de page

Entrées d’index

Keywords :

Violence, Police, Reform

Pays :

Russia

Champs de recherche :

Political Science
Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers who provided feedback on earlier drafts of (...)
  • 1 See, for example, L. Shelley, Policing Soviet Society: The Evolution of State Control. London: Rout (...)

1The problems associated with the Russian police have been well-documented over the last 20 years or so, and include pervasive corruption and police brutality, a lack of professionalism and discipline, and the arbitrary use of power, the latter resulting in claims that the police enjoy “power without limits” 1. It goes without saying that traditional media sources play an important role in the framing of ‘the police’ problem, but recently the prevailing view of the police as predatory and mercenary ‘werewolves in epaulettes’ has been simultaneously reinforced and challenged through the use of other forms of media, including the Internet. The aforementioned ‘challenge’ does not deny that the Russian police appear to be routinely involved in corrupt and violent practices, but it does raise questions about their motivation. This paper uses examples of media exposés to examine the impact of police (mis)conduct, including “whistle-blowing”, on police reform initiatives. It considers in detail the motivation for police violence and brutality in order to try to understand what impact police reform can hope to have in this area. The paper provides a typology of violence conducted by the police in order to provide an overview of the nature of the problem. It also considers the extent of the problem, although it is important to note that accurate and reliable statistical data on this issue are hard to come by. Its main contention is that, in the absence of appropriate formal mechanisms for dealing with complaints about police misconduct (from both victims and police officers alike), the police are likely to continue to act with impunity and the use of Internet resources will possibly develop as a alternative means of trying to hold police authorities accountable for abuses of police power.

Explaining Police Abuses of Power

  • 2 T. Newburn, “Understanding and preventing police corruption: Lessons from the literature”, Police R (...)
  • 3 See Punch, 2003 and O’Connor, 2005, cited in P. Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Police Oversigh (...)

2As the police are granted power by the state to fulfil their role, the possibility for that power to be abused always exists. Abuses of power can take many forms and are usually categorised as forms of corruption, which require an understanding of the means, ends and motivation behind such misconduct2. Researchers have further theorised corrupt police conduct using the ‘rotten apples/rotten barrel/rotten orchards’ classification system, which seeks to explain corruption using a continuum from individual corruption, to group/occupational corruption, to widespread institutional or state/societal corruption3. As will be seen in the paper, there is a tendency to blame individual predisposition for acts of police corruption – including violence – in Russia, which is evident from the types of initiatives developed and introduced to tackle such problems. However, any exploration of corruption in Russian could not fail but take into account the more organised and systemic reach of such practices – especially within the police. In terms of police violence, for example, research indicates an overwhelmingly collective/institutional basis for such behaviour and that a more appropriate approach would therefore be to target initiatives at the group or institutional level. This is problematic however, because of the ways in which violence is used and whom it is used against, but more generally in terms of how it is defined.

Problems of definition and measurement

  • 4 W. de Haan, “Violence as an Essentially Contested Concept”, in S. Body-Gendrot & P. Spierenburg (Ed (...)
  • 5 N. Garver, “Violence and the social order”, in Philosophy of Law, Politics, and Society, Proceeding (...)
  • 6 M. Riedel & W. Welsh, Criminal Violence. Patterns, Causes, and Prevention. Los Angeles: Roxbury, 20 (...)
  • 7 P. Stenning, C. Birkbeck, O.  Adang et al, “Researching the Use of Force: the Background to the Int (...)
  • 8 A. Reiss, “Police Brutality – Answers to Key Questions”, in L. Rainwater (Ed.), Deviance and Libert (...)
  • 9 See, for example, Amnesty International, 2011, 2010; Human Rights Watch, 1999, 2011.
  • 10 RFE/RF, “Russia: Law Enforcement Organs Accused of Widespread Torture”, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLibert (...)
  • 11 Public Verdict, Reforma militsii: otsenki I ozhidaniia grazhdan, 2010, online, available at: http:/ (...)
  • 12 Reuters, “Russian police brutality tests Medvedev reform”, 14 June 2011.

3Defining and measuring police violence is fraught with difficulties, given that it is a multifaceted, socially-constructed and context-specific phenomenon4, which renders it ‘essentially contested’ as a concept5. From a legal point of view, “violence” is the illegal use of force, but what constitutes ‘illegal’ violence in the context of police work is not immediately clear as they are expected sometimes to use physical force as well as non-physical coercion in the performance of their duties6. As Stenning et al. argue: “At the heart of any discussion of the use of force by police officers are some difficult definitional issues”7 and researchers generally agree that it may be difficult or even impossible to distinguish between legitimate and non-legitimate, or reasonable and excessive use of force8. A further difficulty arises in identifying different degrees of abuse: it is not always possible to draw a clear line between “torture”, and other forms of ill-treatment. Nonetheless, the level of police brutality and the use of violence by the police to extract confessions is well-documented by human rights groups and various sources suggest it is widespread9. Research published in 2007 indicated that around 4% of the Russian public are annually subjected to torture and illegal physical or psychological violence, meaning that every 25th person in Russia is tortured, beaten or harassed by law enforcement officials each year10. The same research found that between 40% and 60% of those in prison had been tortured to obtain a confession11. According to the European Court of Human Rights every third complaint from Russia is related to police torture during interrogations12.

A Typology of Police Violence in Russia

4In order to understand the widespread use of violence by the Russian police, it is necessary to examine its various dimensions. In the table below we provide a typology of the different types of police violence we have identified from key sources of literature. Given the difficulties of defining “violence” outlined above, rather than providing a conclusive definition of this phenomenon, we identify various situations when police officers use illegal physical or psychological coercion in pursuance of political, organisational, personal and private aims. We identify the motives behind the various types of violence and the level of illegal conduct, using the “rotten apples/barrel/orchard” classification to identify the “level” of violence, but point out that this is an analytical distinction rather than a description of empirical reality: the same act may have a variety of motives.

Table 1: A typology of police violence in Russia

Type of violence

Motive

Level

Political repression, coercion, harassment

Protecting ruling authorities

Rotten orchard

Excessive force in public
order maintenance

Order maintenance

Suppression of resistance to the police

Punishment of individual ‘violations’/deviance

Demonstration of power

Rotten apples

Rotten barrel

Confessions ‘at any cost’

Improving/maintaining performance indicators

Lack of professionalism

Demonstrating power

Reacting to pressure from above

Rotten apples

Rotten barrel

‘Off duty’ violence

Demonstration of power

Unmotivated violence

Rotten apples

Violent entrepreneurship; Predatory policing

Collecting money for superiors

Supplementing personal income

Rotten orchard

Rotten barrel

Rotten apples

5Each of these types of violence will now be discussed in more detail.

Police Violence as an Instrument of Political Repression

  • 13 Planned on the 31st day of every relevant month to protest against the lack of adherence to the “fr (...)
  • 14 “Mayor vetoes ‘satanic’ gay march”, The Guardian Newspaper, 30 July 2007: available at: http://www. (...)
  • 15 “Russian police and troops clash with protesters in Moscow”, The Guardian Newspaper, 6 December 201 (...)
  • 16 “Activists decry police violence at Monday protest”, The Moscow Times, 7 March 2012; available at: (...)

6In the post-Soviet years the police and other law enforcement institutions have continued to play a key role in extensive surveillance and coercion to control opposition and protest movements. The police have often used force and violence against non-violent public displays of opposition – especially, although not exclusively – against the government. Although a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom of assembly, as recognised in Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, the authorities seldom grant permission to demonstrate to different groups of protesters, including political, social and economic activists - who often go ahead with their demos without the necessary permission and often end up being beaten and arrested. Examples include the Dissenters Marches held in 2006-2007, the Strategy 31 marches13, environmental protests, and gay pride marches held in Moscow despite being banned by former mayor, Iuri Luzhkov, for being “satanic”14. Even when demonstrations are authorised they may result in violent clashes between the police and interior ministry troops and protesters, for example the anti-government protests against alleged vote rigging in the legislative elections held in early December 2011 reportedly resulted in riot police violently arresting some 300 protesters on the Monday following the elections15, and during a demonstration held following the presidential elections in March 2012 several journalists were allegedly beaten by the police16.

  • 17 What is the rule of law? It is abiding by the law. What does the current legislation say on the [o (...)

7Although now explicitly forbidden by Article 22.1.2 of the new Law on the Police (2011), the police’s use of force against such demonstrators appeared to be condoned by the Russian Prime Minister’s announcement last August that such “unlawful” protesters could expect to be hit on the head with a truncheon if they did not have permission to demonstrate. This, he argued, was in order to “uphold the rule of law”17. Whilst it is justifiable to argue that illegal demonstrators should expect a police response for thus breaking the law, suggesting that a ‘whack to the head’ is an acceptable response is synonymous with encouraging the police to break the law that now governs their behaviour.

8The examples above suggest that the police are not averse to using violence to repress protests and abuse disadvantaged and marginalised groups and that their actions often appear to be sanctioned by the authorities. They also indicate that the reality of policing is sometimes at odds with what the law allows or prohibits, which will be discussed further below. It is also within this context that amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation “on Administrative Violations” and the Federal Law “on Meetings, Demonstrations, Gatherings, Marches and Pickets” were approved in June 2012 by President Putin, according to the government to strengthen administrative responsibility for such “violations”, whilst critics argue this will prevent expressions of dissent and block public protest.

Excessive force in public order maintenance

  • 18 http://magazines.russ.ru/nz/2005/42/sh15.html.
  • 19 http://2005.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2005/35n/n35n-s00.shtml.
  • 20 http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/614532.
  • 21 http://magazines.russ.ru/nz/2005/42/sh15.html.

9While order maintenance often requires the police to use physical force, there is evidence to suggest that in Russia more often than not this force is used excessively. Special “operations” carried out by the police to prevent crime and mass disorder are likely to result in excessive use of force. For example, a four day preventive operation in Blagoveshchensk in December 2004 led to the beating of hundreds of people18. People were taken from their beds to the police station where they were beaten and tortured and asked “to respect the militia” 19. The action was a response to three policemen having been injured in a fight between local residents and a police patrol20. Similarly, during the operations to prevent commercial violations carried out by the police in a town of Bezhetsk in November 2004 the police detained and beat up market employees and some other people who just happened to be there21.

  • 22 Iuliia Latynina, "Zvonok Putinu”, Novaia Gazeta, 13 August 2004.
  • 23 Ibid.

10In some cases, extreme and even lethal violence is used spontaneously against individuals in response to what police officers see as violations of order. For example, in one case a policeman approached a man who travelled without a ticket in the Moscow metro and asked him if he wanted to get shot. Before the man had a chance to respond, the policeman shot him. The bullet went through the throat and lodged in the spine22. In another case, traffic police opened fire at a car with two women in it; the policemen made no other attempt to stop the car23. These are only a few examples of the many reports on police brutality that feature on a daily basis in the media.

Confessions “at any cost”

  • 24 For a comprehensive overview of the case, see A. Katmissky, “Mikheyev v Russia: the Issue of Adequa (...)
  • 25 The “phone call to Putin” involves electrodes being placed on the suspect’s ear lobes and eclectic (...)

11An even more pernicious abuse of police power involving violence is beatings and torture – most often used in order to extract confessions from suspects, as mentioned above. Although claims of torture or beatings very rarely result in any further action because of a lack of evidence (the police involved simply deny it took place), justice can be seen to be done in some cases. For example, one of the most (in)famous cases of police torture in recent years involved – ironically – a young police traffic officer - Alexei Mikheiev24. The case began in September 1998 when 21-year old Mikheiev and a 19-year old male friend were arrested in relation to the disappearance of a teenage girl they knew. Mikheiev’s friend was beaten by police investigators until he “admitted” the two men had raped and murdered the girl. Mikheiev was subsequently tortured for 9 days by several police officers and staff from the prosecutors’ office – including being subjected to a method known as a “phone call to Putin”25 – in order to try to make him corroborate the friend’s “confession”. Pain eventually compelled Mikheiev to agree to confess, but when the officers left him alone for a few minutes, he threw himself out of the second floor window of the police station, breaking his back on a police motorbike in the fall. The same day the missing girl turned up safe and well – having gone to visit a friend out of town for a few days without letting her family know.

12Mikheiev, who was left paralysed from the fall – tried for several years to obtain ‘justice’ from the Russian courts, to no avail. Having filed a complaint against the officers involved, it was initially decided by the Prosecutors’ Office that there was no case to answer as the police officers involved simply denied they had tortured or beaten anyone. However, Mikheiev continued to pursue his torturers through the Russian courts, where his case was opened and closed more than 20 times in a seven-year period. Eventually in 2005 the Russian Prosecutors’ Office charged two police officers with ‘abuse of power’ and they were subsequently found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison.

  • 26 Amnesty International, “Russian Federation: Beating out confessions in police detention”, Press Rel (...)

13In 2001, frustrated by the lack of progress in Russia, Mikheiev had decided to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights and five years later, in 2006, it issued a landmark ruling against the Russian Government, highlighting serious shortcomings in their response to claims of torture, finding it to be “in violation of the prohibition to prevent torture and ill-treatment, as well as the right to an effective remedy”26.

  • 27 The elephant involves suspects having to don a gas mask, with the air valve subsequently being clos (...)
  • 28 M. Galeotti, “Medvedev’s Law on Police: a quiet revolution?”, Open Democracy, 2010, available at: h (...)

14This is just one documented example – albeit a very serious one – of the kind of violence and torture carried out by Russian police officers in their quest to extract confessions at any cost. Human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, have documented the methods used – including beatings with poles and books, as well as the more traditional methods. These include suffocation (the infamous “slonik”, or “little elephant”), lastochka (the swallow) and konvert (the envelope)27, which suggest that it is not so much the rule of law that prevails in Russian police stations, but the law of the fist (what Galeotti28 refers to as “kulachnoe pravo”).

  • 29 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit., p. 37.

15Whilst there is absolutely no justification for the use of torture, brutality and violence on the part of the police, given that it appears to be relatively common as a means of extracting confessions, it has to be asked what motivates Russian police officers to use such methods, apparently routinely, rather than the more acceptable and legal methods of rigorous questioning of suspects? One very salient factor that partly explains – although cannot condone – such behaviour is target-driven performance indicators. According to Gerber and Mendelson, “the primary structural basis for violence appears to be pressure from higher authorities to meet case-clearing targets (which encourages police to obtain “confessions” by torturing suspects)”29.

  • 30 O. Shepeleva, “Pravookhranitelnye organy – naseleniiu: tchego grazhdane zhdut i ne mogut poluchit o (...)
  • 31 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit.
  • 32 B. Gladarev, «Usloviia sluzhby i sotsial'noe polozhenie riadovykh sotrudnikov militsii: sotsiologic (...)
  • 33 Although see A. Beck & R. Lee, “Attitudes to corruption amongst Russian Police Officers and Trainee (...)

16The main task is thus to gain information leading to the clearing up of a crime as quickly as possible using the most effective methods at the investigating officer’s disposal. A scarcity of technical resources and investigative skills mean that the use of torture is often the easiest and fastest way to obtain the necessary information or obtain a confession. The system of measuring performance is often seen as one of the reasons for the systematic use of torture, the unlawful detention of citizens and more general abuses of power. A police officer who is able to provide good statistics can count on his bosses turning a blind eye to his misdeeds and violations of legislation30. It is also argued that the failure to devote sufficient resources and energy to police reform in post-Soviet Russia “has exacerbated prior organizational pathologies, such as forcing confessions rather than using modern police techniques [...] or dealing with raising crime by issuing performance targets from above rather than investing in better tactical approaches” 31. From this it is clear that the “problem” of police brutality has structural and institutional roots, rather than being an individual problem of police deviance. However, whilst Gerber and Mendelson’s research clearly suggests a structural and institutional pathology, and not an individual predisposition amongst police officers towards deviance, this does not rule out the fact that the police as an organization may attract some individuals with such criminal/deviant proclivities, for whom “bending the rules” may not prove much of a moral or ethical challenge. The inability of the state to provide adequate pay and conditions of work and the declining prestige of the profession of policing inevitably leads to less rigorous selection of personnel. As a result, it has been argued, individuals with violent tendencies are more likely to be selected32. Currently, there is a dearth of qualitative research on police culture in Russia and the role it plays in maintaining such deviant approaches to various aspects of policing, and more research is therefore required in this area33.

“Off Duty” Violence

17As mentioned above, the prevalence of police brutality and violence, including torture, committed whilst “on duty”, is widely reported in reports from NGOs, both national and international. However, the Russian media also highlight incidents of police deviance and criminality committed whilst “off duty”. One of the first widely publicised cases involved an off-duty police officer, Denis Evsiukov, who in April 2009 shot dead two people and injured seven more (one of whom subsequently died) on a ‘shooting spree’ in a Moscow supermarket, allegedly using a stolen gun. CCTV footage posted on the Internet showed Evsiukov – in uniform – brandishing a gun, leading victims around the store and shooting them, including one victim in the face. It was alleged by the prosecution – partly to refute the defence’s claims of ‘temporary insanity’ – that Evsiukov had in fact “robbed” the supermarket several times in the past – apparently by taking items and not paying for them, but also that he had threatened the store management. If true, this would suggest a pattern of abuse of power that subsequently led to the deadly shooting spree by the officer.

18In the aftermath of the shootings, President Medvedev dismissed Moscow Police Chief Vladimir Pronin, citing the main reason as the supermarket attack, but amid reports that Evsiukov had been appointed thanks to his ties to senior Moscow police officials. Evsiukov was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010. His actions raised serious concerns and sparked debates in the media about the psychological well-being/fitness of the country’s police officers generally, leading to stricter controls, including amendments to the new Law on the Police to include ‘psychological, drug and alcohol testing’ for all new recruits (Article 35.4)

19It is interesting to note that some of Evsiukov’s victims tried to sue the state for compensation because he was in police uniform and used police-issued bullets in the gun. However, such claims were thrown out by the courts who ruled that the officer was off-duty and also there is no such crime (murder/attempted murder) under “misconduct in office” regulations.

  • 34 The Moscow edition of Esquire Magazine maintains a calendar of police abuse that provides an indica (...)

20Examples of serious individual police misconduct/criminality committed whilst off duty appear on a regular basis in the media, both Russian and overseas, which raises serious questions about the moral education and professionalism of police personnel34. At least partly as a result of reported criminal and deviant acts (and especially the Moscow supermarket shooting) the M.V.D. introduced various measures aimed at tougher oversight of the police, including annual psychological testing for all police officers permitted to carry firearms, and making senior officials personally responsible for promotions and police leadership appointments. Since the latter policy was implemented, several senior police personnel have lost their positions in direct response to the misdemeanours of their subordinates.

Violent Entrepreneurship and Predatory Policing

  • 35 G. Favarel-Garrigues & A. Le Huérou, op. cit.
  • 36 V. Volkov, V. Violent Entrepreneurs: The Use of Force in the Making of Russian Capitalism, New York (...)
  • 37 O. Kolennikova, L. Kosals & I. Ryvkina, “Kommertsializatsiia sluzhebnoi deiatelnosti rabotnikov mil (...)
  • 38 The media sometimes publishes reports on cases where the police act as ‘paid muscle’ in commercial (...)
  • 39 Ibid.
  • 40 L. Gudkov, B. Dubin, «Militseiskoe nasilie i problema “politseiskogo gosudarstva”, Index, vol. 1, 2 (...)

21The growing market in post-Soviet states created a demand for violence35 and gave rise to a new phenomenon of “violent entrepreneurship”36. Research in Russia suggests that torture and coercion are often used by police officers not only in fulfilment of professional duties but also as a method of extortion37. Although the majority of cases of extortion known from criminological research represent so called “small-scale” corruption it is suggested that the police are also involved in the provision of “services” to criminal groups and businesses38. A typical attitude observed in a study of police corruption was “we have epaulets, guns and business ideas — let’s take on the market” 39. It is even argued that the police are gradually turning into an autonomous uncontrollable structure (a new type of ‘police state’) serving the needs of powerful and privileged groups40.

  • 41 TGerber and S. Mendelson, op. cit.
  • 42 TGerber and S. Mendelson, op. cit., p. 36.
  • 43 O. Kolennikova et al, op. cit.
  • 44 This seems to be supported by the MVD’s intention to cut police numbers by 20% by January 2012 and (...)
  • 45 D. Wilson, O. Kolennikova, L. Kosals, R. Ryvkina, Iu. Simagin, “The ‘economic activities’ of Russia (...)
  • 46 L. Kosals, “Police in Russia: Reform or Business Restructuring?”, Russian Analytical Digest, # 84, (...)
  • 47 See also O. Kolennikova et al, op. cit.
  • 48 M. Caparini & O. Marenin, “Crime, insecurity and police reform in Post-Socialist CEE”, The Journal (...)
  • 49 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/world/europe/28russia.html?pagewanted=2.
  • 50 From an interview of one of the authors with a senior police officer, 2006. See also A. Novikova, o (...)
  • 51 A. Novikova, op. cit.

22Given the above, it may be logical to describe policing in Russia as “predatory” 41. However, “predatory” suggests “greedy” as illustrated in claims that the police “use their authority to enhance their personal wealth”42. We would qualify this blanket assertion of wealth accumulation, since whilst it is clear that the higher up the police hierarchy one moves, the wealthier one may become, this pursuit of wealth would not seem to be the primary motivator for soliciting and accepting bribes for the vast majority of rank and file police officers in Russia43. Firstly, there is the question of their relatively low salaries that do not adequately reflect risks and workload associated with police work, which means many see it more or less as a necessity to solicit or accept bribes44; for the majority limited monthly salaries appear to be the primary motivation for supplemental economic activities and willingness to participate in misconduct and corruption45. While posts at higher levels of police hierarchy and in certain departments (traffic police, economic crimes, investigation) provide significant opportunities for illegal earnings, lower ranks offer very limited opportunities46. Secondly, anecdotal evidence (including the example of Dymovskii above) suggests that there is an expectation that rank and file officers will ‘collect rents’ for their bosses47. In this way the vertical power structure or the police hierarchy comes into play, making it impossible to opt out of this informal, but highly structured system that places such “predatory” demands on rank and file officers. Within this highly differentiated structure, it would seem to be the higher ranks that use their power and control over subordinates for personal enrichment. As mentioned previously rank-and-file officers have the discretion to be corrupt and violent as long as they comply with the requirements of their bosses48. A senior member of the Russian Duma, Andrei Makarov, recently noted that “police officers … will not be held accountable for putting an innocent person in jail or beating one on the street, but they will be if somebody takes a stand against the authorities”49. This seems to suggest an informal sanctioning of abuse in exchange for compliance with senior officers’ requests and the provision of good performance figures50. At the same time, those officers whose crimes come into the spotlight have little to count on in terms of protection of their legal rights51. The dependency on superiors leaves lower ranks vulnerable not only to formal demands but also to informal requests, thus their relative freedom to abuse power is paradoxically combined with dependency and social and legal vulnerability. Although such dependency does not justify or fully explain the phenomenon of police violence, it does highlight the need for a nuanced analysis of this phenomenon, sensitive to power differentials both within and outside the police hierarchy.

Bespredel

  • 52 L. Gudkov, B. Dubin, op. cit.
  • 53 A. Sarang, T. Rhodes, N. Sheon, K. Page, “Policing Drug Users in Russia: Risk, Fear, and Structural (...)
  • 54 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit., p. 22.
  • 55 L. Gudkov, B. Dubin, op. cit.

23Certain categories of people such as those with low social status, the underage, homeless and those who have had problems with the law in the past are the most likely victims of police brutality and most likely to suffer torture52. Recent research on policing practices with respect to drug users in Russia found that this group frequently face police violence, harassment and discrimination53. The research revealed that relations between police officers and drug users are often perceived in terms of “bespredel”, which the users defined as “living with the sense that there are ‘no limits’ to police power” meaning absolute power of police officers over an individual or a group of people. Gerber and Mendelson also found that the police “may feel they have greater impunity to brutalize lower status individuals”54. This is a pervasive phenomenon that appears to have become normalised and accepted as part of everyday life in Russia55.

Invisibility and the lack of public debate

  • 56 O. Shepeleva, “Proizvol v rabote militsii: tipichnye praktiki”, in O. Shepeleva & A. Novikova (Eds. (...)
  • 57 L. Gudkov, B. Dubnin, «Militseiskoe nasilie i problema “politseiskogo gosudarstva”, Index, vol. 1, (...)
  • 58 Reuters, op. cit.
  • 59 Reuters, op. cit.
  • 60 Sotsiologiia nasiliia. Proizvol pravookhranitel'nykh organov glazami grazhdan, 2006, online, availa (...)

24Although police violence and torture is widespread in Russia, it remains, in many ways, invisible. First, torture often takes place in places and settings of low visibility (police stations and temporary detention rooms) not equipped with CCTV cameras. Second, it is often the case that the police delay the registration of suspects56, and the time between detention and registration, when the detainee has no legal status and rights, can be used to extract confessions. When a suspect who has been subjected to beatings or torture requires medical assistance, very rarely do the police call an ambulance to the police station. Medical personnel usually “learn” about the cases of abuse from the victims when they report to a local medical facility and they (the medics) are required to report such incidents to the police57. Victims are often afraid to speak for fear of the consequences while the police and prosecutors will usually close ranks and refuse to admit anything happened or that there is sufficient evidence to open a case. According to MVD figures 125,000 violations by police personnel reported in 2010 resulted in only 4,000 criminal investigations58. Where the flawed system of justice fails to deter victims from reporting, the fear of further violence in the form of reprisals may prove more powerful. For example, one victim of such police abuse who was hospitalised after his ordeal faced daily threats from police not to complain officially59. Given the above, it is very difficult to obtain reliable data on the scale of police violence and torture (both physical and psychological). Interviews with victims are an important source of qualitative data, however they do not provide accurate quantitative estimates of the extent of violence60.

  • 61 B. Gladarev, op. cit.
  • 62 L. Kosals, “Police in Russia: Reform or Business Restructuring?”, Russian Analytical Digest, # 84,2 (...)

25The invisibility of violence is further exacerbated by the fact that the police remain a non-transparent, opaque institution where informal requests “from above” (so called “telephone law”), the covering up of crimes, and systemic corruption remain widespread61. In addition, there is no independent complaints body or a system of independent oversight and control. This lack of transparency is combined with the lack of public debate on the problem of illegal violence and ways to reform the police. It has been argued that a prerequisite for genuine reform that could address the problem of violence is a broad public debate and the disclosure of information about police structures and activities62.

  • 63 “Deadly rape exposes Russian police's torture methods”, online, available at: http://europeanphoeni (...)
  • 64 Ibid.

26However as more cases of torture of suspects come to light and a picture of systematic violence begins to emerge, the Russian police have been facing increased scrutiny as charges or accusations have been brought recently against officers in Novokuznetsk, Kazan, Krasnoyarsk, Kostroma, Ulyanovsk, Irkutsk, Orenburg and Kemerovo63. In Kazan, for example, a recent incident of death in police custody following torture led to public protests against police violence. More cases are being investigated by regional human rights groups who have begun to publicise numerous similar incidence across Russia64.

  • 65 Public Verdict, 2010, op. cit.
  • 66 O. Shepeleva, op. cit.

27The public are also not indifferent to police violence. When asked in a survey conducted by Public Verdict what needed to be done to improve the work of the police in Russia, the highest-ranked response received was “to make the punishment for professional misconduct/crime more severe”65. This suggests that the public do not believe that appropriate punishment is meted out to police officers in response to professional misconduct and indeed crime. However, it is also interesting to note in this respect that the public often approve of police violence – and torture – under certain circumstances66.

Representations of Police Misconduct/Violence on the Internet

28Although police violence is not a new phenomenon in Russia, the publicity increasingly surrounding it is. The proliferation of technology, including mobile phones, has undoubtedly facilitated various types of ‘eye witness testimonies’ whereby incidents of police abuse/violence can be captured by protesters, journalists and ordinary members of the public and uploaded immediately to the Internet for public consumption. A growing use of CCTV also provides footage of police misdemeanours and violence that increasingly crops up on the Internet. The use of the Internet – including blogs, wikis and films posted on YouTube make it difficult for the authorities to censor such testimonies. In a period of time when official media sources (and NGOs) have increasingly found themselves subject to government control and censorship in Russia, the Internet is playing a growing role in public debates on the “police problem”. Several examples are noteworthy as triggers of this process.

29As mentioned above in October 2009 CCTV footage of a Moscow Police Major, Denis Evsiukov, carrying out a shooting spree in a Moscow supermarket, which killed three and injured six, was posted on the Internet by one of the Prosecutors. The footage was subsequently shown on television, causing public outrage and the promise of a wide-ranging and radical reform of the M.V.D. (Ministry of Internal Affairs), including annual psychological testing for police personnel permitted to carry weapons.

30In November 2009 an officer from the Novorossiisk Ministry of the Interior, Police Major Alexei Dymovskii, caused a media sensation by posting on YouTube an open call to President Medvedev to clean up the police force by addressing the issue of corruption. In the video, Dymovskii complained about irregular work hours and about the attitude of police bosses, who in his words “treat us like animals”. He accused his superior officers of forcing their subordinates to take bribes: “Young people come and say they are not concerned about low salary because they will have bribes. How can this be? The bosses push us to do this”. He also says that “the bosses” order subordinates to detect non-existent crimes: “I told my boss that our police are corrupt and he told me it’s our mindset, we cannot get rid of this…I’m tired of plans when we are forced to detect crimes that do not exist, when we are told to put behind bars these particular people, when crimes are invented”. According to media reports (including further YouTube video-casts and interviews), Dymovskii and his family were subsequently harassed by the police, including having his bank card and mobile phone contract mysteriously cancelled and attempts to plant drugs during a search of their home.

  • 67 By September 2011 Dymovskiy’s original YouTube video appeal had received more than 1,117,000 hits.

31The original video-cast lasted just under six minutes and received more than half a million hits67. It was subsequently broadcast on national TV, attracting widespread attention, however the authorities failed to investigate his allegations and Dymovskii was quickly sacked from his job. In January 2010 Dymovskii was charged with fraud and abuse of office and spent 6 weeks in jail. Upon release he lost a slander suit filed against him by his former chief of police and was ordered to pay him more than 100,000 roubles in damages. In subsequent interviews Dymovskii has admitted taking bribes himself, but claimed the authorities knew about it and understood that the police have to subsidise their low incomes from other sources. He claimed it was common practice for officers in his unit at the end of their shift to have to pass a percentage of their illegal takings (between $25 and $100/day) to a senior staff member (the “cashier”), otherwise they would face disciplinary procedures.

  • 68 “Officer Takes on Russian Police Via YouTube, Costing Him His Job”, 9th November 2009, Radio Free E (...)
  • 69 Reuters, 2011, op. cit.

32Attorney Vladimir Volkov, a former prosecutor, told the Russian Service of RFE/RL that Dymovskii’s allegations only scratch the surface of misconduct among the country’s police: “The truth is even more terrible with the Moscow Police. They long ago have fallen into sin. There are many unsolved killings in Moscow that I believe they are accountable for. People are being killed, beaten to death and robbed”68. Although such comments are anecdotal, they are reflected in Medvedev’s promise to eradicate ‘evil’ from the police force by “shaking up the 1.4 million strong Interior Ministry... and sacking many senior officials”69.

33Dymovskii’s case is interesting because of the reaction it sparked not only amongst Internet users but more broadly. The story appeared several times on the news; Dymovskii spoke at a press conference in Moscow and subsequently became a widely-known public figure. His YouTube appeals spurred an unprecedented reaction in that they were followed by several similar videos from other police officers around the country. One such contributor was a former employee of the Moscow traffic police, Vadim Smirnov, and another a former employee of the MVD in Komi republic, Mikhail Evseev, both of whom placed their video messages with complaints against their bosses on the Internet70. Smirnov’s grievances centre around him being fired from his job for joining the Moscow Branch of the Independent Police Union, but he also speaks candidly about traffic police targets and plans that drive illegal police conduct on the streets. Evseev claims constructive dismissal (i.e. that he had no choice but to resign from his job because it had become unbearable) when he had had enough of fighting the “bespredel” of his superior officers and the MVD leadership more generally. He also alleges police falsification of evidence and the torturing of confessions out of suspects that led to the false conviction of two young men – whom he claims were not guilty – on arson charges, for which both received life sentences. His claims were subsequently backed up by one of the prosecutors involved – also by video testimony made public on the Internet.

  • 71 The Moscow News, “Another Russian police whistleblower faces the sack”, The Moscow News, 2 Septembe (...)

34A further example involves a female officer who also posted accusations of institutional corruption in solving cases (a practice known as “chopping sticks”) and was subsequently fired from her job – allegedly for absenteeism after she failed to turn up to a new posting in a different department, of which she apparently had no knowledge71. She had also tried to bring the police authorities’ attention to an alleged scam involving the renting of police property for commercial purposes – facilitated by payments to the station’s police veteran fund. It was claimed that senior officers refused to investigate further.

35However, not all of the YouTube contributions from Russian police officers are similarly critical. Several of Dymovskii’s colleagues expressed disagreement with his allegations and described his appeal as ‘treason’. They also claimed his allegations were unfounded and that there was no evidence to confirm the claims or existence of corruption. Some of them also expressed disagreement with his complaints about conditions of work and pay, stating that this is part of police work and not something to complain about. Interestingly, the blog comments on these anti-Dymovskii videos were mostly highly sceptical and critical, implying that the officers were ordered by the superiors to speak favourably about the Novorossiysk police and to criticise Dymovskii, or that they were afraid to speak the truth. This case illustrates the problem of relying on Internet sources as reliable evidence of the extent of police misconduct, both individual and collective, particularly when it is impossible to understand the role of local/individual conflicts, and feelings of injustice, discrimination, and other grievances that may give rise to the articulation of such complaints from within the police using this medium, as well as the counter-claims they may arouse. However, such “testimonies” are indicative of the types of problems members of the police believe they face in the course of doing their job.

36In addition to members of the police using the Internet to voice concerns, there are now a number of sites that discuss issues related to law enforcement and other power structures72. There are also a growing number of YouTube videos and associated blogs discussing police abuse of power and corruption. These include videos discussing cases of torture and violence including interviews with victims, often from foreign news sources as the victims are unable (or unwilling) to tell their story to the Russian media or prosecutors. In one such example a middle-aged man who was arrested on suspicion of murdering one of his best friends claims to have been beaten and raped with a stick, all the while being kicked “like an animal” by anyone who happened to pass by. He calls the officers involved “sadists” who appeared to be getting pleasure from their actions. According to the article the local Prosecutors’ Office has refused to investigate and the media is banned from telling the story73. Similar reports in the media have resulted in police officers, including more senior staff who are now held responsible for the actions of their junior officers, losing their jobs. Again such journalistic accounts cannot be relied upon alone to build a comprehensive picture of police violence, not least because they may appear to favour a particular view on the issue; however, they are indicative of the types of violence/misconduct members of the public may be subjected to in the course of police investigations. Such media reports are supported by additional evidence collected by organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Police Reform: the Failure to Address the Problem of Illegal Violence

  • 74 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit.
  • 75 L. Kosals, op. cit.
  • 76 S. Poluziv, “Is Police Reform Taking Place in Russia? A View from the Regions”, Russian Analytical (...)
  • 77 L. Kosals, op. cit.
  • 78 S. Poluziv, op. cit.

37It has been suggested that the reform process itself is implicated in the persistence of the serious problem of police violence insofar as the government has not devoted enough resources or energy to police reform since the end of the Soviet period, and this certainly appears to be a salient factor74. It has also been suggested that the primary motivation behind the reforms was to expand governmental control over the police so that they are better able to deliver services to authorities including violence against political opposition and business takeovers75. However, this is not evident from the approach taken by the Russian President to police reform. At the federal level there appears to have been the political will to broaden media and public access to the debate. For example in 2010 when the new Law on the Police was being developed, a set of proposals developed by non-governmental human rights organisations was put forward for public discussion – via a dedicated website that allowed anyone to leave comments on the bill’s various articles. The Russian President visited the regions and met with police personnel to discuss the new law and attempted, through personal intervention, to pressure local police departments into engaging rank-and-file officers in discussions76. However, at the local level the situation appeared to be quite different, with the police trying to avoid public discussion at any cost and limit contact between themselves and the public. An example of this is a classified directive that ordered police officers to avoid participating in any formal public discussions of the new Draft Law on the Police77. As a result, at the local level there was little, if any, public dialogue on the draft law, and the rank-and-file were excluded from any debates on the reform78.

38It could therefore be argued that there remains a need for a change of mindset away from the target-setting and state-sanctioned violence mentioned above. The new Law on the Police will be influential in this sense only if its provisions are adhered to and enforced. For example, article 9.6-7 stipulates new ways of assessing police performance including the use of public councils and surveys, which may eventually result in a move away from targets as the key means of assessing performance, and thus gauging suitability for promotion etc., which has been shown to result in high levels of manipulation and falsification of crime data and clear-up/detection rates, as increasingly discussed in public as a result of the police whistle-blowing covered above. However previous proposals to include public satisfaction in evaluations of police performance have come to nothing.

  • 79 L. Kosals, op. cit.; Amnesty International: Medvedev will not rid the country of police violence an (...)
  • 80 S. Poluziv, op. cit.

39It is also interesting to note that the new Law has been criticized for giving more rights and freedoms to the police and restricting the rights and freedoms of individuals79. Furthermore, a recent amendment to the Russian Criminal Code (Article 286.1 as amended on July 22, 2010) makes it a criminal offence for police personnel to criticize the decisions of their superiors – undoubtedly a response to Dymovskii’s YouTube appearance80. This has possible repercussions for police whistle-blowing both generally and specifically in terms of serving to block attempts from below to make the police hierarchy more accountable for their conduct and sanctioning of misconduct.

Conclusion

40This paper has provided a review and analysis of the problem of violence in the Russian police, including the ways in which the problem is represented on the Internet. It has highlighted several types or dimensions of violence, including its use to suppress political opposition, to extract confessions and improve performance, to supplement income, as well as violent acts committed whilst “off duty”. The nature and scope of police violence is wide-ranging and pervasive, whereby the typology suggests a spectrum or continuum of violence, where political loyalty and compliance with organisational objectives is exchanged for permission to be violent and abusive. Whilst the new Law on the Police does aim to address these issues – at least on paper – whether they will be implemented in practice and have any fundamental impact on police practice remains to be seen.

41In the meantime, the increasing use of the Internet has added a new dimension to the debate about police violence and more general misconduct. The Internet possibly provides an alternative means of trying to hold police authorities to account for abuses of power and conveying critical and negative experiences from members of the public and police alike – in response to a lack of formal mechanisms to do so. We can doubtless expect more light being shed on these issues – from different perspectives. Police officers are a new voice in the widening debate on police reform and seem to have already found many supporters on the Internet, but it remains to be seen if the voices of dissent within the police/Ministry of Interior become a catalyst of much needed change in the ways in which the Russian police exercise their power.

Haut de page

Notes

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers who provided feedback on earlier drafts of this paper.

1 See, for example, L. Shelley, Policing Soviet Society: The Evolution of State Control. London: Routledge, 1996; G. Favarel-Garrigues, & A. Le Huérou, “State and the Multilateralization of Policing in Post-Soviet Russia”, Policing & Society, # 14(1), 2004, pp. 13-30; T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, “Public Experiences of Police Violence and Corruption in Contemporary Russia: A Case Study of Predatory Policing?”, Law & Society Review, Volume 42, # 1, 2008 pp. 1-44; A. Beck & A. Robertson, “Policing in Post-Soviet Russia”, in W. Pridemore, (Ed.), Law, Crime, and Justice in Transitional Russia, MD: Rowan and Littlefield, 2005, pp. 247-260; A. Beck A. & A. Robertson, “The Challenges to Developing Democratic Policing in Post-Soviet Societies: the Russian Experience”, Police Practice and Research, # 10(4), 2009, pp. 285-293.

2 T. Newburn, “Understanding and preventing police corruption: Lessons from the literature”, Police Research Series, Paper 110, London: Home Office, 1999.

3 See Punch, 2003 and O’Connor, 2005, cited in P. Gottschalk, Knowledge Management in Police Oversight: Law Enforcement, Integrity and Accountability, Florida: Brown Waller Press, 2009.

4 W. de Haan, “Violence as an Essentially Contested Concept”, in S. Body-Gendrot & P. Spierenburg (Eds.) Violence in Europe, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, Springer, 2008.

5 N. Garver, “Violence and the social order”, in Philosophy of Law, Politics, and Society, Proceedings of the 12th International Wittgenstein Symposium August 7th to 14th, 1987, Kirchberg/Wechsel, Austria, pp. 218–223. Vienna: Holder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1988.

6 M. Riedel & W. Welsh, Criminal Violence. Patterns, Causes, and Prevention. Los Angeles: Roxbury, 2002.

7 P. Stenning, C. Birkbeck, O.  Adang et al, “Researching the Use of Force: the Background to the International Project”, Crime Law Social Change, vol. 52, 2009, pp. 95-110.

8 A. Reiss, “Police Brutality – Answers to Key Questions”, in L. Rainwater (Ed.), Deviance and Liberty, Chicago: Aldine Publishing, 1974; Sanders and Young, “Police Powers”, In T. Newburn (Ed) Handbook of Policing, Cullompton: Willan, 2003; L. Westmarland, "Blowing the whistle on police violence, Gender, ethnography and ethics”, British Journal of Criminology, vol. 41, 2001, pp. 523-535.

9 See, for example, Amnesty International, 2011, 2010; Human Rights Watch, 1999, 2011.

10 RFE/RF, “Russia: Law Enforcement Organs Accused of Widespread Torture”, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 29 March 2007.

11 Public Verdict, Reforma militsii: otsenki I ozhidaniia grazhdan, 2010, online, available at: http://www.publicverdict.org/articles_images/8809_53999_Реформа%20милиции%20оценки%20и%20ожидания%20граждан.pdf

12 Reuters, “Russian police brutality tests Medvedev reform”, 14 June 2011.

13 Planned on the 31st day of every relevant month to protest against the lack of adherence to the “freedom of assembly ruling”.

14 “Mayor vetoes ‘satanic’ gay march”, The Guardian Newspaper, 30 July 2007: available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/jan/30/russia.gayrights?INTCMP=SRCH.

15 “Russian police and troops clash with protesters in Moscow”, The Guardian Newspaper, 6 December 2011: available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/06/russian-police-troops-moscow-protest.

16 “Activists decry police violence at Monday protest”, The Moscow Times, 7 March 2012; available at: http://themoscownews.com/news/20120307/189520710.html.

17 What is the rule of law? It is abiding by the law. What does the current legislation say on the [opposition] march? You should get permission from local authorities. Have you got it? Then you can go out and demonstrate. If not, you have no right. If you went out without a right to do so – expect a baton to the skull. That’s it!”, Prime Minister Putin, Interview with Kommersant Daily, 2 September 2010.

18 http://magazines.russ.ru/nz/2005/42/sh15.html.

19 http://2005.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2005/35n/n35n-s00.shtml.

20 http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/614532.

21 http://magazines.russ.ru/nz/2005/42/sh15.html.

22 Iuliia Latynina, "Zvonok Putinu”, Novaia Gazeta, 13 August 2004.

23 Ibid.

24 For a comprehensive overview of the case, see A. Katmissky, “Mikheyev v Russia: the Issue of Adequacy in Investigating Claims of Ill-treatment under the European Convention”, Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review, 2007, p. 537.

25 The “phone call to Putin” involves electrodes being placed on the suspect’s ear lobes and eclectic shocks being administered, causing excruciating pain.

26 Amnesty International, “Russian Federation: Beating out confessions in police detention”, Press Release 22 November 2006.

27 The elephant involves suspects having to don a gas mask, with the air valve subsequently being closed off, thus leaving them unable to breathe. The swallow involves the suspect having their hands handcuffed behind their backs and being hung from an iron pole above their heads, with their feet off the ground. The envelope involves suspects being beaten while their heads are forced between their knees and their hands bound to their feet.

28 M. Galeotti, “Medvedev’s Law on Police: a quiet revolution?”, Open Democracy, 2010, available at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/mark-galeotti/medvedev%E2%80%99s-law-on-police-quiet-revolution.

29 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit., p. 37.

30 O. Shepeleva, “Pravookhranitelnye organy – naseleniiu: tchego grazhdane zhdut i ne mogut poluchit ot militsii”, Demos, 2005, available at http://www.demos-center.ru/projects/52FB039/5D5C603/5D5C918; A. Novikova, “Portrety ryadovykh militsionerov v soveremennoi pravookhranitelnoi systeme”, Neprikosnovennyi Zapas, vol. 42, # 4, 2005, available at: http://magazines.russ.ru/nz/2005/42/nov14.html.

31 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit.

32 B. Gladarev, «Usloviia sluzhby i sotsial'noe polozhenie riadovykh sotrudnikov militsii: sotsiologicheskii ocherk k iubileiu», Teleskop, # 1, 2008, s.12-14, available at: http://www.cisr.ru/files/publ/Gladarev/Gladarev_Teleskop_Militia.pdf.

33 Although see A. Beck & R. Lee, “Attitudes to corruption amongst Russian Police Officers and Trainees”, Crime, Law and Social Change, # 38, 2002, pp. 357-372 for similar research conducted on corruption.

34 The Moscow edition of Esquire Magazine maintains a calendar of police abuse that provides an indication of both the nature and extent of the problem.

35 G. Favarel-Garrigues & A. Le Huérou, op. cit.

36 V. Volkov, V. Violent Entrepreneurs: The Use of Force in the Making of Russian Capitalism, New York: Cornell University Press, 2002.

37 O. Kolennikova, L. Kosals & I. Ryvkina, “Kommertsializatsiia sluzhebnoi deiatelnosti rabotnikov militsii”, Sotsiologiya Prava, 2004, online, available at: http://ecsocman.edu.ru/images/pubs/2004/12/14/0000198275/009.KOLENNIKOVA.pdf.

38 The media sometimes publishes reports on cases where the police act as ‘paid muscle’ in commercial disputes or turf wars, see, for example, “Russian police brutality tests Medvedev Reform”, Reuters, 14th June 2011.

39 Ibid.

40 L. Gudkov, B. Dubin, «Militseiskoe nasilie i problema “politseiskogo gosudarstva”, Index, vol. 1, 2004, online, available at: http://www.index.org.ru/nevol/2004-1/dubin.htm or http://www.ecsocman.edu.ru/data/418/971/1219/04-gudkov-31-47.pdf.

41 TGerber and S. Mendelson, op. cit.

42 TGerber and S. Mendelson, op. cit., p. 36.

43 O. Kolennikova et al, op. cit.

44 This seems to be supported by the MVD’s intention to cut police numbers by 20% by January 2012 and concomitantly increasing the salaries of those who remain.

45 D. Wilson, O. Kolennikova, L. Kosals, R. Ryvkina, Iu. Simagin, “The ‘economic activities’ of Russian police”, International Journal of Police Science and Management, vol. 10, # 1, 2007, pp. 65-75.

46 L. Kosals, “Police in Russia: Reform or Business Restructuring?”, Russian Analytical Digest, # 84, 2010, pp. 2-5.

47 See also O. Kolennikova et al, op. cit.

48 M. Caparini & O. Marenin, “Crime, insecurity and police reform in Post-Socialist CEE”, The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies, # 2, 2005, online, available at: http://www.pipss.org/index330.html; A. Novikova op. cit.

49 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/world/europe/28russia.html?pagewanted=2.

50 From an interview of one of the authors with a senior police officer, 2006. See also A. Novikova, op. cit.

51 A. Novikova, op. cit.

52 L. Gudkov, B. Dubin, op. cit.

53 A. Sarang, T. Rhodes, N. Sheon, K. Page, “Policing Drug Users in Russia: Risk, Fear, and Structural Violence’”, Subst Use Misuse, # 45(6), 2010, pp. 813–864.

54 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit., p. 22.

55 L. Gudkov, B. Dubin, op. cit.

56 O. Shepeleva, “Proizvol v rabote militsii: tipichnye praktiki”, in O. Shepeleva & A. Novikova (Eds.), Reforma pravookharnitelnykh organov: preodolenie proizvola, collection of papers, Centre for assistance to research on the problems of civil society, Moscow: Demos, 2005.

57 L. Gudkov, B. Dubnin, «Militseiskoe nasilie i problema “politseiskogo gosudarstva”, Index, vol. 1, 2004, online, available at: http://www.index.org.ru/nevol/2004-1/dubin.htm or http://www.ecsocman.edu.ru/data/418/971/1219/04-gudkov-31-47.pdf.

58 Reuters, op. cit.

59 Reuters, op. cit.

60 Sotsiologiia nasiliia. Proizvol pravookhranitel'nykh organov glazami grazhdan, 2006, online, available at www.pytkam.net/web/files/sociology.doc.

61 B. Gladarev, op. cit.

62 L. Kosals, “Police in Russia: Reform or Business Restructuring?”, Russian Analytical Digest, # 84,2010, pp.2-5.

63 “Deadly rape exposes Russian police's torture methods”, online, available at: http://europeanphoenix.com/en/component/content/article/34-societa/1179-deadly-rape-exposes-russian-polices-torture-methods.html; “Investigators Find More Police Torture in Russian Regions”, online, available at: http://en.rian.ru/crime/20120406/172659717.html; “More Russian Police Charged with Torture”, online, available at: http://www.rferl.org/content/more_russian_police_abuse/24540051.html; “Russian police officers charged with torturing, sodomizing detainees”, online, available at: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/russia/120329/russia-police-charged-with-torture-sodomy; “New torture case rocks Russian police”, online, available at: http://www.france24.com/en/20120329-new-torture-case-rocks-russian-police.

64 Ibid.

65 Public Verdict, 2010, op. cit.

66 O. Shepeleva, op. cit.

67 By September 2011 Dymovskiy’s original YouTube video appeal had received more than 1,117,000 hits.

68 “Officer Takes on Russian Police Via YouTube, Costing Him His Job”, 9th November 2009, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

69 Reuters, 2011, op. cit.

70 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkNKUlU7EV4&feature=related.

71 The Moscow News, “Another Russian police whistleblower faces the sack”, The Moscow News, 2 September 2010.

72 One example is http://bespredel.ucoz.ru/ - a site that hosts debates about power abuses and corruption in Russian courts, the prosecution office and the police.

73 See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11779823.

74 T. Gerber & S. Mendelson, op. cit.

75 L. Kosals, op. cit.

76 S. Poluziv, “Is Police Reform Taking Place in Russia? A View from the Regions”, Russian Analytical Digest, # 84, 2010, pp.7-9.

77 L. Kosals, op. cit.

78 S. Poluziv, op. cit.

79 L. Kosals, op. cit.; Amnesty International: Medvedev will not rid the country of police violence and impunity, FreedomRussia, Online. Available at: http://freedomrussia.com/vivvo_general/53.html

80 S. Poluziv, op. cit.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Yulia Chistyakova et Annette Robertson, « Youtube Cops and Power Without Limits : Understanding Police Violence in 21st Century Russia », The Journal of Power Institutions in Post-Soviet Societies [En ligne], Issue 13 | 2012, mis en ligne le 24 novembre 2012, consulté le 01 août 2014. URL : http://pipss.revues.org/3949

Haut de page

Auteurs

Yulia Chistyakova

Durham University

Annette Robertson

Glasgow Caledonian University

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Haut de page