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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Force To Improve Image with New Rules

The Interior Ministry is hoping to improve the image of the police force by ordering officers to learn how to render first aid, operate construction equipment and recite both anti-corruption rules and the national anthem by heart.

But two former Interior Ministry officials said the decree, which orders police academies to introduce the new educational standards within six months, would not change the skills or behavior of current or future police officers.

The decree, published in Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Thursday, is part of a broader effort by authorities to change the public image of the police, who are widely seen as corrupt, crude and often violent.

“A police officer often has to know various things,” Interior Ministry spokesman Oleg Yelnikov said by telephone Thursday.

He said, for example, that he knew of one officer who had to learn about various types of rocks in order to solve a crime.

Yelnikov noted that the first aid rule was also enforced in countries like the United States and said the national anthem requirement implied that Russian officers “must love and respect their country.”

The education standards spelled out in the decree are not new but a compilation of various internal rules into one set and published for the first time, said Maxim Agarkov, a former analyst with the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism department.

Yelnikov said the decree was published because it was important for police to know the opinion of the civil society. “Everyone says that the public must control the police. Here is an opportunity,” Yelnikov said.

However, a former Moscow police officer said the changes would probably be implemented only as a formality.

“The police need many staff members, so they will recruit anyone,” the police officer said on condition of anonymity.

She also said police officers often have little time to meet deadlines for their main duties, let alone to learn new skills such as operating construction equipment.

Agarkov said the Interior Ministry was creating the appearance of fighting corruption but did not want to fight it in reality because that would “violate the interests of lots of people … and destroy the balance in the state power.”

Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev told regional police chiefs on Saturday that they had a month to crack down on corruption in their departments, RIA-Novosti reported.

A new behavior code for police officers came into effect in late December. It prohibits police from, among other things, cursing, drinking at work and being “committed to the cult” of money and power.

Opinion polls consistently show the police as one of the country’s least trusted institutions, and police officers nationwide are routinely indicted for corruption and violent crimes.

On Thursday, a court in the Kamchatka region sentenced a traffic police officer to two years in prison for killing a pedestrian and injuring another while driving drunk.