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Russian politicians divided over departure of Moscow police chief
April 28, 2009

Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov has expressed regret over the departure of Col-Gen of the Police Vladimir Pronin from his post as chief of the Moscow Main Directorate of Internal Affairs and has also praised his work, Interfax news agency reported on 28 April. Pronin's departure was reported earlier on 28 April, although there were conflicting accounts as to whether he resigned or was sacked by Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev following a shooting at a Moscow supermarket by the head of the Tsaritsyno interior directorate, Maj Denis Yevsyukov on 26 April, which left three people dead and a further six wounded.

Luzhkov said, "If there really is such a decree (signed by Medvedev relieving Pronin of his duties), I am sorry." "Pronin was an efficient head of the (Moscow) Main Directorate of Internal Affairs. (He was) a frontline general, who did not simply go through the stages of his advancement during calm times. A lot fell to him both in Moscow and in his previous places of work. This was terrorist acts, the consequences of which he had to eliminate. And the prevention of terrorist acts and the strengthening of the Moscow police's potential - he is among those who have achieved this," he emphasized.

For his part State Duma deputy and head of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovskiy considers President Medvedev's decision to get rid of Pronin correct but inadequate.

"The decision to sack the head of Moscow's police is completely correct, however it is not enough. The need for dramatic changes in the personnel policy on the whole, and above all in the power wielding structures, including in the police who are directly in contact with citizens, drew to a head a long time ago" Zhirinovskiy said. He expressed regret that it always "requires some serious reason for serious personnel changes".

Deputy chairman of Yabloko Sergey Ivanenko also believes that there is the need for serious change in the police. "The situation in the internal affairs agencies is catastrophic. Today instead of defending citizens the police often become a direct threat and this is not only in the case of the head of the Tsaritsyno interior directorate (Maj Denis Yevsyukov)," he said.

However head of the Federation Council defence and security committee Viktor Ozerov does not believe that in this case the whole Moscow law enforcement system should be judged by Yevsyukov's actions. "There is a black sheep in every family. There will always be one who by force of some circumstances or other commits inadequate acts; particularly if the person has access to weapons then the crime can have a bloody tint," Ozerov said.

Ozerov also approved of Medvedev's decision regarding Pronin's departure. "The president made absolutely the correct decision and this is a political decision," he added.

Chairman of the Russian State Duma's security committee Vladimir Vasilyev understands the reasons for Pronin's departure but at the same time noted his successes in his post.

"It is understandable that in such a situation the head answers for the subordinates," Vasilyev said. "It is never simple to work as the head of the chief directorate, particularly in Moscow," he said, adding that Pronin achieved many successes in his post as head of the main internal affairs directorate for Moscow.