Top Russian cop 'charged for beating street racer'

6th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia has opened a criminal probe of a top traffic policeman after an Internet video allegedly showed him beating a participant in an illegal street race, officials said Monday.

The probe is the latest case in Russia of people using the Internet to embarrass top officials.

A criminal case has been opened against Alexander Lysenko for allegedly exceeding his authority in the incident overnight May 25-26 in Vladivostok, the press service of the investigative committee for the Primorsky region said.

Lysenko, Vladivostok's top traffic policeman, was driving home from work when he encountered a group of youths taking part in an illegal street race on the main highway out of the city.

Video footage viewed by thousands on YouTube shows him arguing with the young drivers, thumping one in the back and pulling him by the ear.

Reports said that Lysenko was on sick leave and police insisted he had not been sacked.

In an interview with local media, Lysenko confirmed an encounter with street racers but said "there was not the slightest question of violence".

Internet penetration in Russia is growing at speed and users are frequently posting videos to show up alleged corruption or abuse of office by officials.

Last month a driver Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu was fired after a YouTube video showed him threatening to shoot a motorist who failed to get out of the way in heavy traffic.

But while exposure of officials usually delights Russian internet users, many comments on the latest incident voice support for Lysenko and anger at the illegal street racers whose late-night antics cause chaos in the Pacific port city.

"Well done, officer!" wrote one user on YouTube. "These idiots just cause problems. I would have done the same."

Vladivostok, the terminus of the fabled trans-Siberian railway, has embarked on a huge rebuilding and clean-up programme as it prepares to host the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2012.

© 2011 AFP

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