Consuls Move To Rein In Police

A group of foreign diplomats recently approached City Hall requesting the creation of a joint advisory council to address the large number of complaints by foreign visitors and residents concerning the St. Petersburg police. The diplomats said that they are concerned over the number of reports they receive of the city's police stealing money from tourists, detaining people without establishing any legal cause and even physically assaulting them. "In tourist cities in Europe, the police receive special training," said Ulrich Schoening, consul general for Germany and one of the diplomats involved in the discussions, in an interview last week. "They know that they can only stop people and perform identification checks when there are real grounds - the realistic suspicion of some wrongdoing. Russian police just stop people at random, which isn't in line with the Human Rights Convention of the Council of Europe, to which Russia is a signatory." St. Petersburg police representatives, however, have not heard about these supposed instances at all. Andrei Stanchenko, deputy head of the Department of Special Police Services, the police unit responsible for investigating crimes involving foreigners, said that no police officers had been charged with or dismissed for any such offenses to date, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

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