Russian reality: Police officer who criticized his bosses for corruption convicted of libel
A Russian court has found former police officer Alexei Dymovsky guilty of defamation and ordered him to pay compensation to two heads of the Novorossiysk Police and publicly refute his accusations.
In a video appeal to Prime Minister Putin in November 2009, Alexei Dymovsky, then still in the police force, accused his bosses of corruption. Dymovsky alleged in his Youtube video that officers were treated like cattle and that the results of investigations were pre-ordained. According to the BBC, his video clip states: “I am tired of being made to uncover crimes that do not exist," "I am tired of being told that these are the people who we need to go to jail."
After the video received wide publicity, the Head of the MIA [Ministry of Internal Affairs] organized a check which, according to the official version, found the allegations unwarranted. It became known then as well that Dymovsky had been sacked. He was also arrested and placed in a detention centre, from which he was only released shortly after one of his defenders, the human rights activist Vadim Karastelev was brutally attacked (cf. http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1267306040)
The Novorossiysk court on Tuesday ordered Dymovsky to pay each of his two bosses damages amounting to 50 thousand roubles each, or approximately 1,800 US dollars.
Alexei Dymovsky denies any defamation and does not plan to pay the compensation, nor make any retraction. Radio Svoboda reports him as saying: “50 thousand? The court did not look into how I could pay such amounts when I don’t even have registration [propiska]. I won’t in any case make any retraction in the media or in the Internet whatever the court orders. I’ll be better off serving three years imprisonment than publishing a retraction of my video. Justice needs to be sought, and I will do so”, the former Police Major stated.
Alexei Dymovsky and his family have ended up without a roof over their head and means to support themselves. Dymovsky asserts that he was not allowed to show the court his evidence, including secret tapes he made of conversations with his bosses when preparing his video.
There is dispute as to what is meant by a public retraction, with the police heads who brought the suit originally having demanded another video on Youtube. Vadim Karastelov, however, believes that a letter would be sufficient. In any case, Dymovsky’s defence does not agree with the court and is planning to appeal.