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Russian director portrays 'human side' of traffic cops

Russian Policeman and Police VanKRANSOYARSK, December 1 (RIA Novosti, Alexei Korolyov)-A new series that portrays the nicer side of Russia's infamously corrupt traffic cops will be premiered in the eastern Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on Thursday, a police spokesman said.

Vsem Postam (Take up your positions) by Vladislav Bondarchuk (no relation to celebrated Soviet-era director Sergei Bondarchuk) is a moving depiction of the everyday life of road police in small-town Russia.

Set to run for five episodes, the series shows traffic policemen doing the most unlikely deeds, such as helping a motorist find his way out of unknown terrain.

Along with a dozen other buddy cop movies and it's-a-man's-life-in-the-Russian-army sitcoms on state-controlled TV, the evangelism of Vsem Postam is as far from the truth as it could possibly be.

Anyone in Russia will tell you that traffic cops are not exactly whiter than white. And who can blame them for taking bribes. While the official salary of a road policeman is $500 at an absolute push, unofficial incomes can be up to ten times higher.

While you are always given the option of paying your fine through a bank, there is the quicker way, which most motorists opt for: put whatever cash is on you into the man's cap (they think it unethical to touch the money), and that's that.

President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to clean up corruption in the country's police force and even proposed fining those who give and take bribes 100 times the amount of the kick-back in his state of the nation address on Tuesday.

But there is little hope that things will change for the better, no matter how many times TV sitcoms tell us otherwise.

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