Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Russian police 'used drivers as human shield'

Russia has launched a criminal inquiry following claims that traffic police used civilian motorists as a "human shield" to stop suspected criminals.

Several drivers were reportedly ordered to use their cars to form a barrier on a major Moscow motorway last Friday.

A vehicle driven by the suspected robbers smashed through the blockade minutes later and kept going. No-one was hurt but several cars were damaged.

The traffic police commander in charge has already been sacked.

It is the latest in a series of reported incidents involving Russian police, who are seen by many Russians as corrupt and brutal.

Russia's investigative committee, under the prosecutor general's office, announced on Wednesday that a criminal investigation into the abuse of office by the traffic police was now under way.

It said it would investigate every single officer involved.

Moscow police chief Vladimir Kolokoltsev has already fired traffic police commander Alexander Kozlov, whose subordinates conducted the operation.

Stanislav Sutyagin says he was he was one of the civilian motorists used in the blockade.

In a video posted on YouTube, he said the police had not informed the drivers about what was going on, including the fact that the suspects were armed.

He says that just minutes later the robbers' car, a silver Audi, hit his Mercedes and a car of another motorist."We could have been killed. What if the criminals had stopped? We could have come under fire? Is it really the case that our lives are worthless in the Russian state?"

He added that the traffic police officers had parked their cars behind the civilian vehicles during the operation.

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