Today agents of the Ministry of the Interior once again celebrate their professional day. As usual, their will be a lot of solemn speeches, conferments, full-dress functions. The heads of the Russian police will once again assure the public that they will eliminate the insignificant failures that still, though rarely, occur in the work of the police, all bribetakers will be punished, the torture practice will be eradicated, there will be psychological testing of all candidates for top-positions countrywide – as a result the valorous police will become even better than yesterday.
No doubt, the professional day will be celebrated the best way possible. But for dozens of millions of Russian people, for each fifth citizen who has experiences police abuse, for people who have tasted the police boot on their face, the rubber club and the electric shocker, who have faced commonplace police impudence, rudeness and negligence, who have gone through the hell of the Russian police, this day, 10 November, is, of course, the day of mourning.
The day of mourning for the rule of law and human rights, mourning for honour and dignity, mourning for the kind of responsible police that should be present in any normal state. And which is nowhere to be found in Russia. The Russian police has learnt to intimidate people, it has learnt to make people hate it and despise it.
As the police heads correctly state, not all police agents have lost their human face. Among those wearing police uniform there are still decent and honest professionals who care for their work and their fatherland, who respect Russian citizens giving them their job. Those who strictly follow legal norms. Police agents and not “cops”. There are some.
But that’s the tragedy of Russian reality- having encountered the police, we, citizens, as a rule grievously sign and say to ourselves: “That’s ok, there must be good people in the police too…”.
We, Russian citizens, have not given up hope yet. We hope for the common sense of high-standing police officials, we hope for those few honest men and women in police uniform, for the rule of law, and finally, for the political will capable of changing the situation for the better.
We hope for the political will that is capable of conducting the necessary reform of the Ministry of the Interior, supporting conscientious workers and punishing those who have breached the law and smeared the esprit with their deeds… Capable of eliminating the fear and hatred, establishing a constructive dialogue between the sound system and the public, capable of forming a modern and effective law enforcement structure that really protects the citizens’ legal interests.
And then the police day will cease being “their” holiday. It will become everyone’s holiday.
Interregional Committee against Torture