Moscow police raid rights group as row over brutality grows

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The Independent Online

Under increasing pressure after accusations of brutality, Moscow police have raided the office of a human-rights group set up to protect people from abuse at the hands of those meant to serve and protect them.

Under increasing pressure after accusations of brutality, Moscow police have raided the office of a human-rights group set up to protect people from abuse at the hands of those meant to serve and protect them.

Public-transport division officers searched the offices of Moye Pravo (My Right) on Wednesday, although the officers have no jurisdiction outside the underground Metro. They had raided My Right's offices in July, seizing documents, computers and the cash-box.

Mikhail Anshikov, the group's chairman, said Muscovites were feeling increasingly terrorised. "People are scared; they feel the need to protect themselves from the police instead of the police protecting them."

My Right was set up this year after a brutal attack on German Galdetsky, a 19-year-old university student campaigning against police abuse. Mr Galdetsky is recovering in a Moscow hospital, barely able to walk or speak. After Metro police allegedly tried to rape a female friend, Mr Galdetsky persuaded several people to report similar assaults and press charges. A few days later, he was assaulted in the Metro by two men in camouflage uniforms, and was shot twice in the head with rubber bullets.

Mr Galdetsky's mother, Alyona, is convinced her son paid the price for taking on the police. "He behaved like any normal, decent person should have," she says, dismissing any suggestion her son is a hero. "How is that doing something normal makes you a hero nowadays?" In the months since the attack on Mr Galdetsky, Moscow police have been accused of a series of brutal beatings and murders.

On 21 June, Viktor Zolotsev, 26, was beaten to death by a police officer after being detained in the Metro for being drunk. On 31 July, Rustam Baibekov, a 20-year-old from Tajikistan, was shot in the face by a policeman who stopped him trying to jump turnstiles on the Metro. Mr Baibekov is recovering in hospital.

The same day, 25-year-old Dmitri Marakin, from the Russian region of Tatarstan, was beaten to death at a Moscow police station by three officers who had detained him for not having the proper documents to live in Moscow. Observers believe the poor wages, rock-bottom morale and inadequate training combine to allow police brutality to flourish.

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