Kremlin tightens screws on Russia's scandal-tainted police

22nd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday he had signed legislation aimed at clamping down on the country's police force which has been rocked by scandals in the past months.

"When the system works not the way it should -- and such conclusions are being made in relation to the interior ministry -- it is necessary to tighten screws here and there," Medvedev told his Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev.

Under the new legislation, former convicts will no longer be able to work in police, Medvedev said in televised remarks.

It will also be possible to prosecute policemen for defying their superiors' orders, he added.

"If an order is given in accordance with the law, it should be implemented," the Kremlin chief said, adding that a new law on police was needed.

Russian policemen are underpaid and overworked and police bosses are routinely forced to turn a blind eye to the often murky past of new recruits. As a result, extortion scandals are commonplace in Russia and beatings and deaths at the hands of police are also frequent.

Late last year Medvedev, who is a lawyer by training, signed a decree to improve the work of the country's bloated police.

The decree ordered a 20 percent cut to the staff of the interior ministry, which employs about 1.2 million people.

The cuts will have to be made by January 1, 2012 as part of the reform, which also foresees better salaries for police officers.

© 2010 AFP

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