Moscow Traffic Cops Create Unwitting Human Shield

Stanislav Sutyagin. Source: YouTube.comOfficers from Moscow’s highway patrol have allegedly used civilian drivers as human shields in an attempt to detain a number of armed criminals, reports.

The news broke Tuesday morning when the Russian media picked up on a YouTube video posted by Moscow resident Stanislav Sutyagin, who detailed what happened in the incident.

“On March 5, an acquaintance and I were driving in a Mercedes on the MKAD,” says Sutyagin. “Before reaching Yaroslavskoye Highway, we saw several highway patrol vehicles that were stopping everybody. At the moment I was in the leftmost lane, and when we were signaled to stop.”

“They asked me to turn the car a bit sideways, and naturally we did so,” Sutyagin goes on. “Giving no further explanation, the police parked their cars behind ours, and after literally a few minutes, a silver Audi flew by and grazed my car as well as the black Volga parked next to me. After that, the police got into their cars and continued the pursuit.”

Sutyagin then explains that an officer directed him to a police outpost, where he was told that there had been a special operation to detain a number of armed and wanted criminals. Sutyagin and the other drivers, he was told, had been used as human shields in an attempt to stop their car. “I have a question for the traffic police,” said Sutyagin in his video. “What if the car had been hit differently? Either I or my acquaintance could have died, or somebody else,” he says. “And what if the criminals stopped – they easily could have begun shooting. Are our lives really worth nothing in our Russian state?”

One of the most outrageous aspects of the incident, says Sutyagin, was that a car carrying a pregnant woman about to give birth was among those used for the barricade. The car sustained light damage in the incident.

Sutyagin said that the police refused to offer compensation for damage to his car. “The most interesting thing was that they told us directly: ‘Guys, you’re not going to get any compensation – in the end, they didn’t catch the car, it got away. And we asked you to stop – so what?'”

Noting that car repairs are far more expensive than the fine for failing to stop for police, and that a human life has no price at all, Sutyagin concluded that he plans to risk the fine in future situations.

Maksim Galushko, a spokesperson for the Moscow traffic police, told that the agency had learned about the incident through the media. “We’re dealing with it,” he said. No official confirmation or denial that the highway patrol had created a human shield to stop armed criminals had been issued as of Tuesday afternoon.

Journalists were also unable to reach the highway patrol division noted by Sutyagin in his video as responsible for the incident.

Sergei Kanayev, head of the Moscow division of the Russian Federation of Automobile Owners, said that police had created a human shield in a similar incident a year and a half ago in Moscow. “Luckily, the drivers refused to stop across the road, despite threats that they were forfeiting their rights,” he said.

“I recommended at the time that those involved in the incident should complaint to the prosecutor’s office, warning that “it will happen again,'” Kanayev said. “They decided not to complain – and it happened again.”

The allegations are just the latest in a long-running slew of unsavory incidents involving the Russian police. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says that reform of the country’s notoriously corrupt law enforcement agencies is a top priority, firing dozens of police officials in the past couple of months and calling for higher wages. One thousand activists rallying for police reform in Moscow on Saturday were less than thrilled with the president’s efforts, criticizing the government for its persecution of whistleblowing cops that have attempted to expose systemic corruption.

Sutyagin’s video can be viewed in Russian by clicking here.