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.
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.