Feature

Russia: An attempt to civilize the police

Last month, the Interior Ministry passed a new behavior code that forbids police officers from engaging in &ldquo;a range of unseemly deeds, from cursing to smoking to adultery,&rdquo; said Natalya Krainova in <em>The Moscow Time

Natalya KrainovaThe Moscow Times

Can the government “turn police into gentlemen?” asked Natalya Krainova. The Interior Ministry is trying. Last month, it passed a new behavior code that forbids officers from engaging in “a range of unseemly deeds, from cursing to smoking to adultery.” Officers can no longer drink on the job, fraternize with criminals, or make off-color jokes. The code even requires them to use correct grammar. The ministry is presumably hoping to change the public perception of the police as “corrupt, crude, and often violent.” Hardly a week goes by without some officer being indicted for corruption or for some more spectacular offense—last month, one police chief hacked off the hand of his subordinate during a drunken argument.

But the officers themselves are highly skeptical of the new code. The bans on adultery and smoking have already drawn numerous complaints from police who cite their constitutional right to privacy. It’s unlikely that the Interior Ministry will achieve its goal of engineering “the ideal police officer.” Of course, most Russians would settle for much less: a cop who obeys the law.

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