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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Irkutsk Police Accused of Robberies

Irkutsk prosecutors said Tuesday that more than a dozen current and former policemen, including senior officers, have been implicated in a series of armed robberies of residential apartments that were committed while the officers were in uniform.

The suspects, 11 current and three former police officers, were involved in the robbery of a woman in the village of Baikalsk, the Irkutsk regional branch of the Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The victim told authorities in December that several armed, masked assailants broke into her apartment, assaulted her and her common-law husband and took all of the money in the flat, investigators said.

Authorities received subsequent complaints from seven other purported victims of the robbers, investigators said. Nine of the suspects have been arrested, they said.

One of the suspects is Valery Karabanov, the former Baikalsk chief of police who was a suspect in the 2005 murder of a local legislator from the now-defunct liberal party Union of Right Forces, the Investigative Commitee said.

The Irkutsk Regional Court acquitted Karabanov in September, but the Supreme Court subsequently overturned the verdict and ordered a retrial.

Officials with the Irkutsk branch of the Investigative Committee could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The suspects stand accused of armed robbery, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

A man who answered the telephone at the regional Interior Ministry branch Tuesday said no one was available to comment.

Opinion polls consistently show that the country's police force, which answers to the Interior Ministry, is one of the institutions least trusted by society.

"Many people are just afraid to go to the police," said Natalya Zorkina, a sociologist and political analyst with the Levada Center. "The level of confidence in the police has been always low in Russia, the lowest among Russian law enforcement agencies."