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Navalny offers to help Russian police

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Alexei Navalny talking about retired policeman Roman Khabarov in his video

by Sarah Hurst

Can Russia’s police be persuaded to support Alexei Navalny? Although they have arrested Navalny himself many times as well as hundreds of his supporters, he has also said that police generally express interest in his policies while handcuffing him and taking him to court and prison. Today Navalny published a video in which he promised better pay and housing to police officers who work with the public and catch criminals rather than wasting their time with paperwork.

Navalny’s video features retired policeman Roman Khabarov, who finished work after 20 years with a salary of 17,000 roubles a month ($291). He spent 80 percent of his time on pointless paperwork, he said. “Our Interior Ministry doesn’t know any other way of monitoring its employees and evaluating their work,” he said. Police officers had to spend their own money on office supplies and even lightbulbs for their offices, according to Khabarov. Most didn’t receive housing and had to live in hostels or with their parents.

Insulting for the country

“Most police officers really do want to help people and want to have the time for this,” Khabarov said. “This is just insulting for the country,” Navalny commented, pointing out that Russia spends 2 trillion roubles a year on law-enforcement and security, with over a trillion roubles of that amount going solely to the police. Thanks to “monstrous corruption” in state agencies, everything is purchased for two or three times the market price, Navalny said.

Tomorrow Navalny is organising voters’ gatherings all over Russia to officially nominate him as a presidential candidate. Police are unlikely to rise up against Putin instantly and refuse to make arrests, but at least he has given them something to think about.

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