Civic virtue. Belarusian faces trouble after stopping car driven by drunk police colonel (ENG video)

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When Artur Yarash, a resident of the Belarusian city of Vitsebsk, prevented a drunk police chief from further driving, he faced threats but stuck to his guns.

Two months ago, a Hyundai driver created an accident situation on Moskovski Prospekt in Vitsebsk. Artur, who was going by another car as a passenger, just missed being in the accident. He detained the violator who turned out to be drunk.

“He began to say something, and I realized that his speech was indistinct and his eyes are red. I came closer; there was a strong smell of booze in the car,” Artur Yarash told Belsat TV.

The driver’s name is Syarhei Sarokin, he is a police colonel and the head of Pershamaiski district Directorate of Interior of Vitsebsk. He started to utter threats.

“He said I would be in big trouble if the traffic police arrived and detained him, because he is a police chief. He promised that I would be to hell and back over the situation,” Mr Yarash said.

But it was the question of principle for Mr Yarash. When the traffic police found that Colonel Sarokin’s BAC was more than 0.2, he stated that his mother, pensioner Larysa Sarokina, had been driving the car. Mrs Sarokina went to even greater lengths – she asked the Investigation Committee to open a criminal case against Artur Yarash for ‘arbitrary behaviour and extortion’. But it did not work –  investigators failed to establish any crime committed by Mr Yarash. Moreover, the court found Larysa Sarokina guilty of false testimony. A video of the drunken colonel filmed by traffic policemen at the station came into play as well.

“It is the use of video cameras that helped to properly consider and assess the conflict,” Pavel Sapelka, lawyer, human rights defender, told Belsat.

Read also: Belarus police fail to give reason for detaining, beating opposition politician

Although Colonel Sarokin has been suspended from work for the time of the investigation, but his name is still on the website of the Vitsebsk police. One should not celebrate the victory yet, says Pavel Sapelka.

“Of course, ithe situation is rather an exception [in Belarus]. As a rule, our government bodies are very cautious in solving issues when a public official is involved in any scandal.”

The city of Vitsebsk got wind of the story very soon. It has had a negative impact on the local police’s reputation.

RESIDENTS OF VITSEBSK:

“The colonel who created such chaos has lost face. If one crossed the line and was caught on the scene thay should, in spite of its position, solve the situation with dignity.”

“I want to expect something better of the police. I want them to be more polite and  law-abiding, because they do lack these qualities.”

But Belarusian policemen will definitely have all the personal and professional qualities required for their work, if citizens keep an eye on the police and ignore any threats of violators in uniform.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been several high-profile scandals for the Belarusian police. In January, tut.by journalist Pavel Dabravolski who was covering the ‘graffiti case’ was beaten by plain-clothed police officers in the building of a court in Minsk . In Brest region, a road police officer insulted a driver saying ‘F*ck you’ but remained unpunished.

In February, Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenka reiterated that the country’s law enforcement agencies should do their best to improve their public image and strive for being liked by citizens.

Read also: ‘Polite people’: How Minsk police prevent Belarus journos from working (video)

Yaraslau Stseshyk/MS. Belsat

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