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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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by: Jake from: Wisconsin
January 23, 2010 01:30
Brave man, and Russia needs many more like him, but this is hardly a surprising turn of events, sadly.

Apologies for being barely relevant to the Dymovsky mess, but I've always wondered how Russians perceive American television's permanent obsession with police dramas. I know they idolize Chekists, but the mere thought of identifying with ordinary police or seeing them as anything less than menacing or incompetent must be utterly alien to the average Russian.

by: nancy from: USA
January 23, 2010 04:00
This is the stuff of horror movies!!! Funny thing... tell people tidbits of info of what goes on in Russia, and they think you're making it up or that it's just not a big deal or who cares/doesn't affect us. But the fact remains that it is just a drop in the bucket as to the extent of typical hideous dysfunction of law enforcement/judicial system in Russia and the way the Russian system really works. (and worked in the past.). Russia is revealed for what it really is and was and that is equally as scary.

by: Blinutne from: Sevierville, TN, USA
January 24, 2010 04:51
Does the Russian government expect its people to be blinded either by myopic nationalism or federally imposed ignorance? Anyone who pays attention knows that government critics routinely find themselves dead or imprisoned (perhaps a worse fate). Why? Do they assume we will believe all these people are truely criminals? Do they think we will believe they merely fell victim to unfortunate circumstance--other than that of their geography? We are not that stupid.

by: MSCD from: Scotland
January 25, 2010 00:26
No government/ political system likes to be critisized, Russian, British, Yank, Israel or Iran. For every free thinker that dares to complaint about the George Orwellian 1984 system which they choose to run our lives with is a target for the Imperialist jobs worth............one day they will over step the mark and the free thinkers will win, but when & how is the question.

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