No Jurors Found for Russian Cop-Killing ‘Guerillas’

The trial of the “Primorye guerillas,” accused of killing policemen in Russia’s Far East, was postponed because not enough people showed up for jury duty, a court spokesman said on Monday.

Only 12 people turned up for the jury selection instead of the required 20, the spokesman said.

He did not specify what could have caused the low turnout, but said a new attempt to select the jury would be made on August 1.

Six alleged “guerillas” are about to go on trial on multiple charges, including the murders of two policemen, robbery and attacks on police precincts.

The group was active for five months in 2010, hiding from pursuers in the taiga, which earned them nicknames of the “Primorye guerillas” and even “Russian Rambos” in the press and blogs.

After a hunt involving tanks and helicopters, the group was eventually blocked and captured in the city of Ussuriisk, with two members dead from gunshot wounds that were ruled suicides by investigators.

Authorities say that the gang consisted of robbers who only attacked policemen in order to obtain weapons and that they had ties to the drug mafia.

But the attackers claimed to be waging a war on corrupt policemen abusing the people and patronizing the drug mafia in question.

Two gang members also reported being tortured in prison, though the allegations were never proven.

The populace was split on the “guerillas,” with 37 percent calling them bandits, 13 percent seeing them as folk vigilantes and 34 percent considering them people driven to desperation by the police’s abuse of power, according to a poll by Levada center held in June 2010 among 1,600 people. The poll had a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

A Kremlin-backed reform of the police force in 2011 failed to change negative public attitude toward the institution, with only 18 percent saying it improved things, compared to 72 percent who reported no change for the better, a nationwide poll by Levada showed in February.


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