Police Vow to Defend Their Name

The Interior Ministry plans to actively seek legal redress against individuals and organizations that slander its name, a ministry spokesmen said Tuesday.

The ministry will defend its honor and the honor of its officers against offensive public statements in court, ministry spokesman Valery Gribakin said.

Another Interior Ministry spokesman, Oleg Yelnikov, said the ministry's press service would keep a close eye "on all critical materials in the media and report them to our bosses."

"If we see grounds to suspect libel, we will conduct a probe," Yelnikov said.

Gribakin linked the ministry's increased vigilance to an April 11 protest in central Moscow against recent incidents of purported police brutality.

Referring to the demonstration, Gribakin blamed "some citizens and nongovernmental organizations" for using "unverified information that undermines the authority of law enforcement agencies" during public protests.

Several citizens and human rights groups accused police of abuse during the April 11 rally, the April 4 detention of seven young men outside Sokolniki metro station, and the April 19 arrest of a retired lieutenant colonel suspected of public drunkenness, Gribakin said.

The Interior Ministry has examined each of the complaints and found no evidence of police brutality, Gribakin said. The City Prosecutor's Office, however, will have the final say in whether criminal cases are opened in connection with the incidents, he added.