From Komsomolskaya Pravda:
- Good afternoon, Colonel! Why do you have all this money around? Like a banker and not a traffic policeman.
With these words, detectives from the Department of Internal Investigation entered the office of the Head of Ryazan regional traffic police, Alexander Alfosov. The scene caught on video shows the colonel sprawled on a small couch in the back room of his office. His subordinate takes the thick bundles of banknotes out of a usual bag. [Seeing the detectives] the colonel jumps and runs toward the door. He is caught and his arms are bent behind his back…
This video is already in internet (leaked by one of Alfosov’s hot “fans”) and Ryazan drivers are joking in forums that they are ready to watch it again and again. No blockbuster can compare with seeing the head of traffic police being caught red-handed!
- Head of the regional traffic police was extorting huge bribes. – explain the investigators. - Currently Alfosov is charged with the attempted bribe of 500 thousand rubles [ed: more than 16 thousand USD].
You can say – that’s not surprising at all. Every day we hear about the criminal cases of large-scale corruption in traffic police. But this story is unique. Alfosov & Co. had created a super-brazen scheme to obtain money, taking the tribute from his own officers, and through them – the whole Ryazan region. And, presumably, he earned more than half million… much, much more.
Employees of the regional traffic police act as if nothing had happened: walking in the hallways, accepting visitors. Nervousness is manifested only when someone starts asking questions. Few agree to talk, even then meeting in some small cafe on the outskirts of the town. People are afraid: what if the chief is suddenly released and they will have to work with him again? But not only because of that: nobody wants to reveal their little “professional” secrets.
- Administration of the regional traffic police forced the subordinate officers to charge extra money for driving licenses and for the “nice numbers” on car license plates, – say the investigators. - The only choice was to refuse and be fired or agree and get support.
But is this news?! It was the same under previous bosses when “nice numbers”, technical documentation and licenses were traded all over the country. So, what has Alfosov done that earned him the unanimous hatred of everyone in his surroundings?
He was appointed in September 2011. Barely entering the office, the Colonel Alexander Alfosov made the loud announcement: “I’ve been working in traffic police for more than 20 years! I think that the personnel will cope with the tasks. Wherever I work, I spend three months to look around. And here – in Ryazan Oblast, I will introduce the Moscow methods of work.”
Alexander Alfosov implements Moscow methods
And he did! His “genius” system Alfosov implemented in a matter of few days. He didn’t need three months! Soon Ryazan got to learn the “Moscow methods”.
- We were just told that we need to make money, – says one of the workers of the regional traffic police. – The scheme is standard: “nice numbers”, technical inspections, driving schools. Everything had its own fee. You should know – you possibly happened to pay yourself. But in the past someone might give [money] for successful driving exam, and even then, [mostly] if the student could not pass from the third attempt – then it really looked like reward. Now, however, it became a must-pay fee. The free pass of [technical] inspection became impossible! Someone tried to resist, but the authorities promised to dismiss without further ado. And people became quiet – because, in fact, it’s easy to punish anyone in the traffic police for bribes!
- The “services” immediately became few times more expensive. The appetites of the Muscovites were no match for ours! Previously, the “nice numbers” cost about 20,000 rubles [almost 650 USD], now the prices jumped to 70,000, – adds another one. – For technical inspection the drivers had to bring 2-3 thousands rubles. It was possible to pay and immediately get the stamp, like in the store. In Ryazan the drivers stopped going through the official inspection process.
- Why are you staring at me as if you didn’t know it? - asks the third man. Of course, I knew about the bribes to the traffic police. But I was stunned by the casual tone of policemen. Everyone – including novice drivers, not to mention the cops – knew how the things worked. And everyone, without exception, participated in this system.
Actually, Alfosov didn’t hide anything – bundles of money were lying on his desk since in his surrounding worked only reliable people. In the first week of his reign all local bosses of Ryazan traffic police were removed from their comfortable posts. Alfosov needed only his own people.
Cops were paying from their own salary
However, as it turned out, Alfosov’s deputies were also very innovative. The most profitable “line” was under Valery Vyshinsky – head of МРЭО (Interregional Department of Testing and Licensing). Another was covered by Alexey Kristelev – head of department responsible for combating corruption in police.
The “combat” looked like this: first, money was “earned” on the road. The motorists were literally “milked” through fines, they were prevented any possibility to obtain documents in a standard and legal way. [Good] money was squeezed from trailers and oil carriers.
- They really don’t have any shame, – complains the gas station owner. – It came to situation when we were paying for every vehicle entering the city! If we tried to argue – they would immediately find violations. We even called to the Ministry of Fuel and Energy so that they could influence somehow – but to no avail!
- And what could we do? – says the traffic cop. - Do you have a family? - I nod in reply. - And I have. I also want sausage for breakfast and go to travel on vacation. My boss said: “Work as everyone else and don’t make troubles! If we are OK, you also will be fine. Otherwise – resign.” What should I choose? Drivers hated us? Damn them. I also want to live somehow. Never thought I would ever say something like that, but…
At one point I even began sympathizing with the cops. They also were “milked”. And how cynically! Every day they had to give a decent amount to bosses.
And Alexey Kristelev who headed the department responsible for combating internal corruption was milking. Taking example from his boss, he also started raising money for himself!
- He ordered the city traffic police to pay him 50,000 rubles [about 1,620 USD] every week, – says my companion, Vadim.
- And if the day wasn’t good and you couldn’t collect enough? – I continue to interrogate.
- There were times when we paid from our salaries. – frowns Vadim. – With our “help” after just four months of “work” Kristelev saved for Jeep Land Cruiser with a nice number 200, by the way.
But that’s not all! Kristelev, apparently inspired by easy money, decided to… blackmail the bribers! One case is already confirmed in which he demanded 100,000 rubles for “silence” over certain irregularities in the work of traffic cops.
The boss had a sense of humor: forced the policemen to take bribes and then punished them for that same act! They paid. And the more they were forced, the more expensive was becoming the cost of road “services” in Ryazan…
At first Alfosov didn’t know about the “diligence” of his deputy. It created an absurd scheme – bribery within the system of bribery. But the town is small. One day the chief visited a district department and the local boss dared to complain about the hard burden. It resulted in terrible scandal. But soon… the chief and his deputy reconciled and the cash started flowing in the right direction and they continued working on the “common cause”.
Need money for promotion
Alfosov’s scheme worked for six months. During this time police gritted teeth but continued working.
- Why didn’t you complain? - I ask.
- We had one such honest worker, Pisegov, who tried to fight the system. And where is he now…
Oleg Pisegov was the head of МРЭО in Sasovo, Ryazan Oblast. I made inquiries – everyone says about him in one voice “he was a good policeman” in true sense of the word. “Strict. Fair. Not corrupt. When he got the order to collect money from driving schools, he refused and did it not quite politely, they say. Very quickly his working conditions became intolerable. Afterwards, he himself wrote the letter and requested to transfer him to the duty of simple traffic cop.
- Yes, it happened. But I still work in police. Sorry, I don’t want to talk about it… – answered the honest cop, when I phoned him up.
Ok, this is clear: cops were intimidated, they chose the least of two evils, and accommodated to the new conditions. But why did Alfosov take money so brazenly and openly? Wasn’t he afraid?
- He was in Ryazan temporarily; we knew that he was transferred for a year, two at most. This post was his springboard to the next appointment already somewhere in the capital, – says our source familiar with the Office of Internal Affairs. - I think this is why he did not hesitate – anyway, he should leave soon. But there was another reason: we all know that good post costs money. And in the periphery it is easier to scrape together some money.
The interviewer hinted that the colonel was collecting money for the shoulder straps of general. Allegedly, he had succeeded to “earn” several tens of millions of rubles for this purpose hurrying to pay for the new chair.
Here it is! If he slowed down a bit, he could continue “earning” for another year. Why did he set up himself in such stupid manner?
Work continues according to the schedule
Now Alexander Alfosov is behind the bars. The acting chief of traffic police in Ryazan region is Mihail Yesakov – local officer. He tries to be cautious in his statements:
- We continue to work in accordance with the schedule approved by the head of department: accept the citizens, register vehicles, and issue driving licenses – everything in normal mode. The atmosphere is very difficult, of course.
- Listen, maybe something will change after all this hype? – I ask my acquaintance, Vadim.
- Nothing will change – even not for one day. The scheme does not depend on the boss. Alfosov simply appropriated the whole “manger.” And he was removed from it.
Of course, after the high-profile arrests the cops quieted down, but…
- My friend asked for help with the “nice numbers”. I don’t know if you would help me with this matter after all what happened? – I dialed the number of the person in uniform who, they say, is “competent” in this matter.
At the other end is silence. And, finally:
- You’ll have to wait for some time now. But we will figure it out.