The Russian police force is under fire after a series of online videos from current and former officers appeared, denouncing it as permeated with corruption and malpractice.
The latest video, posted on YouTube this week, came from Mikhail Evseev, a former policeman from the northern Komi region. The video was presented as a personal address to the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, asking him to help cleanse the police force of corrupt bosses.
The police force in the republic is beset by "corruption, falsification of cases, and 'ordered' cases against businessmen," said Mr Evseev. He noted in particular a recent case where two young men were sentenced to life imprisonment for burning down a shopping centre. Mr Evseev claimed to have documentary evidence of their innocence, which he sent to the prosecutor and other bodies but was ignored.
"Dmitry Anatolevich [Medvedev], I am appealing to you," he said to camera. "Will this chaos in our country never end? Will it ever be possible to do honest work in the judicial system, and will people stop simply fabricating cases?"
Polls suggest that more than two-thirds of Russians don't trust the police, and many view them as a bigger threat than criminals. The police force as an institution has come under scrutiny since April when a policeman went on a drunken shooting spree in a Moscow supermarket. The Moscow police chief was later fired.
Mr Evseev's address, as well as other videos that appeared during the course of this week, appear to have been prompted by last week's sensational online appearance by Alexei Dymovsky, a police major from the southern city of Novorossiisk.
His six-minute video was addressed to the Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, begging the PM for a personal audience and complaining of corrupt bosses who made him frame innocent people so as to keep solved case quotas high. He also spoke of appalling working conditions and said he earned under £300 per month.
Despite receiving little coverage on state-controlled television, the videos have become a sensation online, with more than half a million people watching Mr Dymovsky's video. Mr Evseev's received more than 50,000 hits in just two days. The hundreds of comments from Russians on the YouTube site were almost overwhelmingly positive.
"Unbelievable! I thought Dymovsky would just be shut up quietly, but no! It seems there are others willing to risk their lives! Nice one!" said one comment to Mr Evseev's video.
Some political analysts have said that Mr Dymovsky, who has been fired and is continuing to demand a meeting with Mr Putin, might be being used as part of a high-level battle between Kremlin clans. Whatever his motives and backers, however, his criticisms ring true.Reuse content