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Police Chief Resigns After Beating Driver

The traffic police chief of the Primorye region quit on Monday amid a criminal investigation into a YouTube video that shows him slapping a street racer atop the head and yanking hard on his ear.

Police Colonel Alexander Lysenko, who also has been filmed nearly hitting a reporter with his car and beating a young girl, resigned just days after the street racer, Yaroslav Gorbenko, 20, complained to local media that the criminal investigation into the attack on him had stalled.

Some reports indicated that the Kremlin forced his resignation. A regional police source told regional news agency PrimaMedia that Lysenko stepped down "after getting a call from the capital."

But an official police statement later carried by Newsvl.ru, a Vladivostok news site, denied that there had been a call from Moscow.

Lysenko, who is reportedly under house arrest, has not commented on his reason for quitting. He faces up to 10 years in prison on abuse of power charges linked to the video released on YouTube in June that shows him arguing on the side of the road with Lysenko, who had been participating in an illegal night race, and then striking him on the head and pulling his ear so hard that he sways to one side.

Prosecutors opened a criminal case into the attack, later closed it, but then reopened it.

Gorbenko told PrimaMedia on Friday that he had complained on President Dmitry Medvedev's blog that the investigation was dragging on and, "after some time," investigators showed him a document connected to the case that contained links to his complaints to Medvedev.

Lysenko has been involved in at least two similar incidents. In August, he nearly hit a reporter with the bumper of his car in an incident videotaped and aired on state television.

A spokeswoman for the region's traffic police said at the time that police saw no reason to act because Lysenko had been on vacation at the time and the reporter wasn't pressing any charges.

In 2002, at a rally in Vladivostok over wage arrears, Lysenko was shown on television striking a girl aged 3 to 5 years in the face, the Deita news agency reported. Media reports said he was aiming at the girl's mother but missed.

Investigators opened a criminal case into the 2002 incident but concluded that Lysenko was defending himself because the woman had attacked him with a bag, local newspaper Arsenyevskiye Vesti reported in July 2010.

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