Russia arrests YouTube police whistleblower

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia on Friday arrested a former policeman who gained national attention by posting a video about police corruption on YouTube, investigators said.

Former police major Alexei Dymovsky became a household name in Russia earlier this year when he used the video-sharing website to appeal to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to tackle corruption in the police force.

Dymovsky was arrested on charges of fraud and abuse of power, the Prosecutor-General’s investigative committee said in a statement. He faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty, state-run news agency RIA reported.

Dymovsky earlier had said the charges were fabricated.

“They want to silence me and gain revenge,” he told Reuters in December when the charges were announced. He did not answer his mobile phone on Friday.

Dymovsky, who worked for the police force in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, appealed to Putin to rein in senior officers whom he accused of pressuring subordinates to charge innocent people to meet statistical targets.

He was fired after making the appeal, which received more than one million hits on YouTube. Regional police also conducted their own investigation after the videos were released, which they said did not back up Dymovsky’s allegations.

Corruption is endemic in Russian society and global surveys have repeatedly ranked the former Soviet state as one of the most corrupt in the world.

An off-duty senior officer killed three civilians in a shooting spree in Moscow in April, one of a series of scandals to hit the force in the past year.

Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Michael Roddy