Moscow When a police officer posted a video on YouTube complaining of rampant abuse in Russian law enforcement, it seemed like one voice in a sea of social media.
Since then, three more officers have come forward with their own YouTube videos making similar accusations — and others are lining up to do the same.
In a country where the rule of law is weak, social media sites are gaining a role as a place where citizens can broadcast grievances. But things may not be as simple as they seem: The burst of whistle-blowing follows pledges from the Kremlin to clean up Russia’s corrupt police force — and some suspect the Internet campaign may even have sprung from within the halls of power.
Maj. Alexey Dymovsky, an officer from the southern port city of Novorossiisk, started the trend with two YouTube pleas in which he said his bosses forced him to falsely report that unsolved cases had been cracked.
Dymovsky’s postings got 700,000 hits by Monday — the day when he was fired and threatened with a lawsuit for slander. However, the Interior Ministry ordered an investigation into his allegations.
President Dmitry Medvedev has called for “the most energetic measures to cleanse the ranks of the police and special services of unworthy personnel.”
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said Friday that the Web postings were “part of the purification” and pledged to fight “chaos and indecency … of certain police officers,” the ITAR-Tass agency reported.