Another horrific Russian crime, and another instance in which the criminal perpetrator is a cop. The Moscow Times reports:
A traffic police officer was caught red-handed trying to rape a woman in an elevator in a sting operation Thursday, and he is suspected in 20 recent sexual assaults in southern Moscow, investigators said.
The unidentified lieutenant from the Moscow region traffic police force was detained Thursday morning as he tried to force himself onto a woman inside the elevator of an apartment building in southern Moscow, RIA-Novosti reported, citing police.
Anatoly Bagmet, head of the city’s branch of the Investigative Committee, said the suspect was detained by police officers and investigators from his committee in a sting operation, Interfax reported. He did not elaborate.
Bagmet also said investigators believed that the suspect was behind a rash of 20 sexual assaults in the area this year.
A police spokeswoman declined to comment on Thursday’s detention.
Police alerted local residents that a serial rapist was on the loose after the first attacks were reported in March and have provided a composite sketch of the suspect that has aired on television, said the spokeswoman, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak with the media.
Southern Moscow residents who were contacted Thursday said they were aware of the hunt for a serial rapist but had not been particularly concerned about being targeted. The area where the sexual assaults occurred — which includes the Orekhovo-Borisovo and Brateyevo neighborhoods — is home to more than 1.5 million people.
Anna Putyatina, the mother of a schoolgirl, said that she had not seen the police sketch but had heard about the rapist from schoolteachers. “We were told that this guy is very strong and it is hard for women to fight him,” she said.
Another resident, Anna, a hairdresser who refused to give her last name, said she had heard about the attacker from colleagues but had not been worried. “We were counting on luck. You can’t really escape your destiny,” she said.
She added that she carries pepper spray to protect herself.
Police registered 530 cases of rape last year, a 25 percent increase from the previous year and a relatively low figure for a city with Moscow’s population of some 10 million people, according to the Investigative Committee.
Bagmet said earlier this year that 70 percent of sexual assaults were committed by illegal foreign migrant workers.
Meanwhile, investigators in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk are seeking to reopen a case against local district deputy prosecutor Viktor Basov, who is accused of sexually assaulting three underage girls in his apartment Sunday. Ilya Gudkov, an assistant to the Khabarovsk branch of the Investigative Committee, said Thursday that his office had appealed a decision by the local prosecutor’s office to close the case and free the suspect, Gazeta.ru reported.