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Moscow Times
June 10, 2009
Survey on Police Force Hints Anti-Graft Drive Is Working

People described police officers as "stupid," "incompetent" and even "Machiavellian" in a survey released Tuesday, even though 72 percent of those polled said they had not had any experience with police officers over the past year.

The survey by state-run VTsIOM was the first to gauge public sentiment about the country's notoriously corrupt police force since a Moscow officer went on a shooting spree in a supermarket on April 27, killing three and injuring six.

Many respondents had nothing nice to say about police officers, even though they acknowledged that they had not had any run-ins with them over the past year -- a possible sign that a Kremlin-led campaign to root out corruption might be bearing some fruit.

Still, 53 percent of respondents said they did not trust their local police officers, compared to 15 percent who said they respected them and 1 percent who expressed admiration for them, according to the survey of 1,600 people across the country.

Twenty percent of those polled said they were completely indifferent about law enforcement.

The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

An independent survey of 641 police officer around the country in 2006 found that a majority of them considered it acceptable to use force against detainees, and 20 percent had no qualms about planting drugs or weapons on suspects. The poll was conducted by the Levada Center.

In stark contrast to Russia, a Gallup poll conducted in June 2008 indicated that 58 percent of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of respect for their local police, while only 1 percent said they had none.