MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) – Four policemen in the Russian capital face trial following an investigation that found they had been providing motorized police escort to VIP customers for cash last year, local media reported Tuesday.
The officers were working at a police detachment that guards courts and law enforcement agency offices, Kommersant said.
But they were also running a sideline in providing police vehicles to escort drivers ready to pay for that service, reports said.
Motorcades escorted by police cars get priority on the road in Russia and can ignore certain traffic rules – possibly useful for urgent trips to the airport or impressing business partners – though the privilege is only intended for cars on official duty.
The police involved were charging between 50,000 and 70,000 rubles ($1,500-$2,100) for a VIP escort service, Kommersant daily said, citing case materials.
The driver escort ring met their downfall after some clients booked a police ride to a business meeting with rivals to intimidate them, Komsomolskaya Pravda said in November. Instead of being intimidated, their rivals reported the incident to the Interior Ministry’s internal security department, the newspaper said.
Police traced the ringleaders and detained them as they accepted money from a fake “client,” Kommersant said.
The four officers who ran the operation face up to seven years in prison if convicted of abuse of authority, Kommersant said, adding they have not yet been formally arrested.
None of the officers who actually drove the escort cars were charged over the case, the report added.
The Moscow police press office was not immediately able to comment Tuesday afternoon. Repeated calls to the Investigative Committee, which is also working on the case, went unanswered.
Road privileges for state employees are a contentious issue in Russia because numerous high-ranking officials, who are also entitled to such privileges while on duty, have been accused of abusing them for personal needs, sometimes leading to fatal accidents. Grassroots motorist groups campaigning against such abuse often film violations of the rules and post videos online or report them to police.
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