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Russian cop reform

December 24, 2009

A new decree aiming to eradicate corruption is set to cut one fifth of the employees from Russia's interior ministry.

The entrance to the Russian Interior Ministry in Moscow
Russia's interior ministry currently has 1.4 million employeesImage: RIA Novosti

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on Thursday designed to cut the the number of staff at the interior ministry by 20 percent. The cuts, which could affect more than 280,000 members of the 1.4 million strong ministry, are designed to combat corruption within the scandal-plagued police force.

The decree would also cut interior ministry troops, civilian employess and investigators by January 1, 2012.

"A huge amount of complaints from our citizens have been piling up about the work of the interior ministry," Medvedev said during his end-of-year interview with three state-controlled television stations. "We need rather tough and serious changes."

The document provides for changes in police recruitment rules to better vet applicants, and outlines measures to combat police corruption.

Eroding authority

Bribe-taking and documented cases of torture while in custody have earned the Russian police a fearful reputation, resulting in many crimes going unreported out of fear.

Recent months saw a slew of high profile scandals that precipitated Thursday's decree. On Wednesday a Russian police colonel was detained as a suspect in the murder of a lawyer last year, on Tuesday a police major went on trial for going on a shooting spree in a Moscow supermarket in November, killing two, and in November three Moscow police officers were detained for drunkenly beating a man to death while off duty.

Medvedev said police abuse and corruption had undermined the authority of the government, necessitating the decree.

Editor: Chuck Penfold

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