By Brian Whitmore
Routine falsification of evidence. Pressure to arrest the innocent. Poor working conditions. And a low salary.
Aleksei Dymovsky, a police major in the Black Sea port town of Novorossiisk, finally decided enough was enough. So last week he blew the whistle -- over the Internet. The move cost him his job, and he now says he fears for his life.
The incident is just the latest embarrassment for Russia's law-enforcement community, which has been accused by rights groups and the public of endemic corruption, incompetence, and brutality.
On November 5, Dymovsky posted two videos to his website that quickly went viral, getting hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. The videos show Dymovsky spelling out a long list of allegations against the local police force. Among other things, he alleged that his bosses routinely order officers to make up criminal cases against innocent people in order to cover up police inability to track down real criminals.
"I'm sick and tired of being told to solve crimes that don't exist. I'm sick and tired of being told to put [innocent] people in jail. I'm sick and tired of made-to-order criminal cases. I'm sick and tired of all that," Dymovsky said.
Speaking at a press conference in Krasnodar on November 9, Dymovsky said he was being followed and that his phone was tapped. He has sent his wife -- who is six months pregnant -- to Moscow for her safety.
Dymovsky, who plans to hold another press conference in Moscow on November 10, says he has documents in his possession that will prove his allegations -- but said he would only give them to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin himself.
In his video, Dymovsky offered to "expose police corruption in all of Russia" and repeatedly appealed to Putin to intervene.
"I will show you, from the inside, the life of cops across Russia, with their corruption, ignorance, boorishness, and recklessness, where honest officers die because of their dim-witted bosses," Dymovsky said.
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev initially ordered an investigation into Dymovsky's allegations on November 7. But hours later, a ministry spokesman announced that the investigation was complete, and that Dymovsky, a 10-year police veteran, had been fired for slandering his colleagues.
"Our inquiry did not confirm any of these facts. Therefore, by the order of the Krasnodar Krai police chief, Major Dymovsky was dismissed for slandering his fellow police officers and commanders, and for misconduct unbefitting a police officer," Interior Ministry spokesman Oleg Yelnikov told reporters in Moscow on November 9.
Neither Putin nor President Dmitry Medvedev has responded publicly to Dymovsky's allegations. Russia's Public Chamber, a government oversight body, says they should be investigated.
"The Moscow Times" quoted attorney Anatoly Kucherena, who heads the chamber's law-enforcement committee, as saying Dymovsky should be given "protection to avoid sanctions and prosecution."
Attorney Vladimir Volkov, a former prosecutor, tells RFE/RL's Russian Service that Dymovsky's allegations only scratch the surface of the malfeasance among the country's police.
"Of course what he said is true. What's more, Dymovsky doesn't even know the whole truth," Volkov said.
"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."
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. 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.
RFE/RL's Russian Service contributed to this report