A senior Moscow region police official was fired Monday for assaulting a journalist — but only after his superiors started receiving phone calls from reporters and television crews arrived at the scene of the attack.
Alexei Klimov, acting head of a department at the police precinct in the town of Moskovsky, just outside Moscow, was fired hours after assaulting Natalya Seibil on Sunday evening, regional police said in a statement on their web site.
Klimov attacked the woman because she reprimanded him over how he parked his car, the statement said.
But Seibil said the officer actually attempted to start a conversation with her as she walked her dogs in the yard of her apartment building in Moskovsky, RIA-Novosti reported. When she refused, he punched her in the face, bringing her down, and proceeded to beat her, kicking her and slamming her against a car, the report said.
Seibil said she sustained a concussion and numerous bruises in the attack, Interfax reported. A photo released by RIA-Novosti showed her with a swollen black eye.
Witnesses did not call the police, in part because Klimov waved around his police badge and threatened to "jail everyone," Seibil's son Pyotr wrote on his Facebook page.
His mother managed to call police herself, but the officers expressed reluctance in registering her complaint, telling her, "What should we do? This is our chief," and "Would you rat out your own boss?" Pyotr Seibil wrote.
Local police also said it would be pointless to detain or question Klimov because he was so drunk that he would not be able to understand anything, Lifenews.ru reported.
Officers took up the matter only after the precinct began receiving calls from the media and film crews started arriving at the scene, Pyotr Seibil said. Even then, police officers begged Natalya Seibil not to "raise a fuss" because otherwise "the actions of one piggy will reflect upon the whole precinct," her son said.
Klimov was fired, and regional investigators opened a preliminary inquiry into Klimov's actions, the Investigative Committee said in a statement. No charges were pressed immediately, and Klimov remained at liberty. Assault charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
Natalya Seibil said Klimov is a "danger to society" and promised to seek his arrest, according to Interfax.
"I hope this will never happen again because only real pros should remain on the force," police Colonel Yevgeny Gildeyev said on the regional police's web site.
The country's police force is undergoing a Kremlin-ordered reform that will see some 200,000 officers fired this year in an attempt to boost the police's sometimes dismal performance.
Seibil, currently unemployed, has worked as a chief editor on high-profile Channel One talk shows like "Pust Govoryat" with Andrei Malakhov and "Zakryty Pokaz" with Alexander Gordon, Komsomolskaya Pravda said.