One day last fall, a police officer here put on his uniform and sat on a drab tan couch before a video camera. In a halting monotone, he recorded two video appealsto Vladimir V. Putin, 13 minutes in all.
He was a nobody cop from a nowhere city, but his words would startle this country.
“How can a police officer accept bribes?” the officer asked. “Do you understand where our society is heading? You talk about reducing corruption,” he said. “You say that it should not be just a crime, that it should be immoral. But it is not like that. I told my boss that the police are corrupt. And he told me that it cannot be done away with. “I am not afraid of quitting. I will tell you my name. I am Dymovsky, Aleksei Aleksandrovich.”
The videos were uploaded to YouTube in November, and a nation that has grown increasingly infuriated by police wrongdoing could not take its eyes off them. Here, finally, was an insider acknowledging the enveloping culture of corruption in Russia’s police forces — the payoffs large and small, the illegal arrests to extort money, the police chiefs who buy fancy cars and mansions on modest state salaries.