Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 41

On November 5, the newspaper Kommersant reported that the FSB of Chechnya had begun a major operation in the struggle with corruption in the republic called Operation “Clean Hands.” Its principal goal was said to be to punish Russian police for their violations of the law at checkpoints located throughout Chechnya. On November 3, at a checkpoint situated in the Chechen capital, “employees of the FSB established the receipt of a bribe solicited by a soldier of the Smolensk OMON [police special forces]. The Chechen who gave the OMON soldier 50 rubles to pass through the checkpoint was an employee of the republican FSB…. One other policeman, who had been sent to Grozny from Krasnodar Krai, was taken into custody at a neighboring checkpoint in Leninsky District. The soliciting of a bribe went according to the same scenario.” The author of the Kommersant article, Ol’ga Allenova, noted that the problem of bribe-taking by Russian police based in Chechnya is now openly discussed “even in meetings with the president [Putin] himself.” Pro-Moscow Chechen officials, however, remain skeptical that the operation will have any real effect. “In two days,” one of them said to Allenova, “only two policemen have been taken into custody. And that in a situation in which bribes are taken every day at every checkpoint.” The real solution, the official noted, is to remove the checkpoints. “But,” he predicted, “no one will do that.”