Deeper Than Oil: Good cop, bad Satanist

© RIA NovostiMarс Bennetts
Marс Bennetts - Sputnik International
Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev recently boasted that a much-heralded reform of the police force here meant the murderers, rapists, blackmailers and common thieves who earlier tarnished the cops’ good name had been booted out and “only the best of the best remain!” I’m glad he is so optimistic, but I can’t help wondering if they weeded all the Satanists out.

Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev recently boasted that a much-heralded reform of the police force here meant the murderers, rapists, blackmailers and common thieves who earlier tarnished the cops’ good name had been booted out and “only the best of the best remain!” I’m glad he is so optimistic, but I can’t help wondering if they weeded all the Satanists out.

Admittedly, the force does have a good reputation when it comes to preventing Lucifer’s followers from joining its ranks, so I’m pretty sure they did a good job.

In May 2010, a court in the central Russian republic of Mordovia heard that a devil-worshipping cult had encouraged its members to join the police force in a bid to extend its influence. Investigators said that the Saransk-based Nobilis Ordo Diaboli group recruited young people from across the region between 2003 and 2009.

Prosecutors claimed that potential members, many of whom were recruited via the internet and were of "good families," were forced to take part in alcohol-fueled orgies during which they pledged their souls to the group’s leader, 24-year-old Belarus national Alexander Kazakov, who was later jailed for 20 months.

Investigation surveillance footage aired by Russia's Channel 5 showed one cult member boasting that he could "kill someone without him even knowing of what he died of." A pretty handy skill, I’m sure you’ll agree.

The cult's attempts to infiltrate the police are believed however to have ended in failure, with at least one member rejected due to his "strange tendencies."

An article at the time on the website regretted that the Russian police force, whose officers had been charged with crimes ranging from burning suspects alive to beheading in the preceding 18 months or so, was not always so effective in weeding out sadistic applicants.

Russia has always taken the threat of Satanist groups, which mushroomed after the collapse of the Soviet Union, extremely seriously. In 2008, Interior Ministry experts announced that Satanism was a “greater threat” to the country's national security than Islamic radicalism.

No wonder they are so vigilant when screening potential officers. I wonder how they check for Satanism though? Do they sprinkle them with holy water? Thrust crucifixes in their foreheads? Check them for Black Sabbath or Slayer tattoos? Or maybe they just ask them.

But are they successful all the time? Could your local beat officer belong to the dark side? Could he have pledged his soul to Satan? There’s not really any way of finding out, I guess. Unless you shave his head and find a 666 there.

Still, Satanists or no Satanists, there are – despite Nurgaliyev’s boasting – some pretty unpleasant characters left in the “best of the best.”

Nurgaliyev, who once advised Russians to give as good as they get if attacked for no reason by an officer, was made to look pretty silly just weeks after he had said “Bribe-taking, abuse of office, corruption and all the negatives have been left in the past.”

In the period August 21-September 1, three weeks after the end of the reforms, which saw the militsiya (militia) renamed politsiya (police), there were 67 crimes attributed to police officers. An average of almost seven a day.

Among the 67 crimes included in the figures released by the Investigation Committee for August 21-September 1 was the beating to death of 41-year-old Oleg Bichkov by police officers in the Urals city of Perm.

Bichkov, who was scalped and attacked with baseball bats and truncheons, was so badly disfigured that his mother was unable to identify him.  A group of ten officers attacked his family home after his wife was involved in a quarrel with an officer’s wife in bar.

Other police crimes listed for the period concerned by the Investigation Committee – an organization separate from the police force - included torture and an attempt to steal a bag containing almost $50,000 from a man who had just sold his apartment.

Satanism? Or just business as usual?


The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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From lurid tales of oligarch excess to scare stories about Moscow’s stranglehold on Europe’s energy supplies, the land that gave us Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin is very rarely out of the news. But there is much more to modern Russia than billionaire tycoons and political conspiracy. Marc Bennetts’ weekly column, Deeper Than Oil, goes beyond the headlines to explore the hidden sides of the world’s largest, and often strangest, country.

Marc Bennetts is a journalist who has written about Russian spies, Chechen football and Soviet psychics for a number of UK newspapers, including The Guardian and The Times. He is also the author of Football Dynamo: Modern Russia and the People’s Game (Virgin Books).

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