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Russia Arrests Whistleblowing 'YouTube Cop'

Police officer Aleksei Dymovsky's video denouncing corruption was widely viewed online.

Police officer Aleksei Dymovsky's video denouncing corruption was widely viewed online.

(RFE/RL) -- A Russian police officer who gained widespread fame for posting a video on YouTube alleging police corruption has been arrested for fraud and abuse of power.

Aleksei Dymovsky made international headlines late last year when he appealed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to tackle police corruption on the popular video-sharing site. In a statement, the Prosecutor-General's Office said he faces 10 years in prison if convicted.

Dymovsky's attorney, Sergei Gubar, tells RFE/RL's Russian Service that the authorities are seeking to "discredit him and make him look like an ordinary crook in order to humiliate him and belittle his role and his public statements."

Gubar adds that the arrest will discourage future whistle blowers and harm the cause of combating corruption.

"By today's actions, by detaining Aleksei Dymovsky, they are threatening those people of common sense who remain in the police, telling them that if they try to fight the system, the same will happen to them. What happened today was completely unlawful."

Fired After Posting

In a series of videos posted on YouTube, Dymovsky, who was a police major in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, alleged that police there engaged in routine falsification of evidence and were under pressure to arrest innocent people in order to meet monthly quotas. He also complained of poor working conditions and a low salary.

Dymovsky was fired after posting the videos, which received more than 1 million hits on YouTube. Police in Novorossiisk conducted their own investigation after the videos were released, which they said did not back up Dymovsky's allegations.

Rights activists, however, said the allegations were accurate and that police abuse and fraud in Russia are widespread.

Attorney Vladimir Volkov, a former prosecutor, told RFE/RL's Russian Service at the time that Dymovsky's allegations only scratch the surface of the malfeasance among the country's police

"Of course, what he said is true," Volkov said. "What's more, Dymovsky doesn't even know the whole truth."

Authorities announced in December that they were investigating Dymovsky for fraud linked to abuse of office. He was summoned today to appear in Novorossiisk's Primorsky District Court.

Foregone Conclusion

Vadim Karastelyov, a Russian human rights activist, tells RFE/RL's Russian Service that his detention had been a foregone conclusion.

"The decision to detain [Dymovsky] had been made before the hearing because the courthouse was surrounded by police and FSB personnel, and a police car was waiting for him outside," Karastelyov says. "So, even before the announcement of the ruling, the police took control of the courtroom. They entered the room together with the judge. Then the judge read out the decision to detain him."

Russia's police have come under increased scrutiny since April, when Denis Yevsyukov, a Moscow police officer, killed three people and wounded six more in a shooting rampage at a supermarket. President Dmitry Medvedev fired Moscow's police chief several days after the shooting.

In October, Buryatia's Interior Minister Viktor Syusyura and his deputy were arrested in connection with an alleged jewelry contraband racket.

Also in October, Medvedev sacked the chief of the Tuva region’s police force, Viktor Lesnik, after a local policeman killed a fellow officer and then shot himself.

And on January 20, Konstantin Popov, a journalist in Tomsk, died from wounds suffered from alleged beatings while in police custody. One police officer has been arrested in connection with Popov's death.

RFE/RL correspondent Brian Whitmore contributed to this story

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