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Russian Traffic Cop's Golden Toilet Steals the Show in Uncovered Police Bribe Scheme

One photo — that of the residence's golden toilet bowl — quickly spread across Russian social media. Alexander Khinshtein / Telegram

Russian investigators said Tuesday they have uncovered a multi-million ruble bribery scheme run by dozens of senior traffic police officers, with the top cop’s golden toilet bowl stealing the show.

In what looked more like a luxury real estate ad, the Investigative Committee published footage of police colonel Alexei Safonov’s opulent residence in southern Russia’s Stavropol region following his detention.

					Alexei Safonov.	
Alexei Safonov.

It said in a statement that Safonov and six of his subordinates were detained on allegations of receiving 19 million rubles ($255,000) in bribes “for several years” in exchange for illicit grain transportation licenses. Safonov faces between 8 and 15 years behind bars if found guilty.

Pro-Kremlin United Russia party lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein said more than 35 members of the Stavropol traffic police department were apprehended as part of a large-scale operation. 

“A real mafia was operating in the region,” Khinshtein, who shared photos of the baroque interior of Safonov’s mansion, said on his social media page.

One photo — that of the residence's golden toilet bowl — quickly went viral and triggered memories of the “Wild East” opulence of post-Soviet capitalism in the 1990s.

News agencies reported that the Stavropol region police chief was sacked after the high-profile raids ensnared what Khinshtein referred to as “the entire top echelon” of traffic police.

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