Russian Police Accuse Media of Shoddy Journalism

OMON officers. Archive photo. Source: Mikhail Fomichev/RIA NovostiThe Russian Internal Ministry is accusing the country’s media of launching a widespread campaign to discredit the ministry’s OMON security forces, reports.

In a press released posted Tuesday on the agency’s official website, Lieutenant General Vladimir Gorshukov said that an article published Monday in the New Times magazine accusing an elite subdivision of the OMON of using slave labor was “a complete fabrication.”

“I would call it an intentional campaign against the OMON detachments of the Russian Internal Ministry, and against the Zubr detachment in particular,” said Gorshukov.

The lieutenant asserted that the article was based on “the private statements of a former member of the division who had disciplinary problems and did not follow demands from above that were given to members of the special subdivisions; in consequence of this, she was fired.”

Monday’s article by the New Times consisted largely of the transcript of an interview with former Zubr OMON officer Larisa Krepkova, who claims to have witnessed migrant workers brought to the OMON base and forced to work without pay. The article asserts that her reason for leaving the force was related to illness.

Major General Aleksandr Ivanin, who commands the Zubr unit of the OMON, said that while Krepkova was sufficiently qualified for her job as a canine handler, she had repeatedly come to work intoxicated and was seen consuming alcohol on the job. “We conducted a service check on the matter and have all the supporting documentation,” he added.

Ivanin claimed that Krepkova was given the opportunity to resign, but that the reason for her dismissal was changed to the condition of her health after a medical commission was completed. What exactly the commission concluded was unclear.

Internal Ministry spokesman Oleg Yelnikov accused the media of failing to fact check their articles. “Some journalists, clearly, have forgotten that in accordance with article 49 of the law regarding the media, a journalist is required to check the reliability of the information presented to him,” blaming the New Times for relying solely on Krepkova’s testimony.

The agency announced Monday morning that they plan to sue the magazine for libel.