Sergei Nazarov’s murder inside Kazan’s Dalny police station was neither the first nor the last such incident. Nazarov, detained on suspicion of a minor offense, was beaten and raped with a champagne bottle. He died in the hospital. Yet Nazarov’s case has suddenly generated a public outcry, as it has become clear that Russia’s repressive security services system is incurable, despite last year’s reform, which renamed the militsia “politsia” and made officers pass qualification tests.
The public outrage at the Nazarov case opened a floodgate, and complaints poured in from other victims of violence or theft who had previously feared speaking out. Within two weeks, prosecutors in Kazan alone were dealing with over 60 new cases.
Russia’s police forces have long been plagued by a quota-based system,* in which the main criterion of success was closing cases, irrespective of the facts. In places like Dalny, rather than undertake an investigation, officers often randomly singled out the “perpetrator” from a crowd, then pressured him to confess.
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