Muscovite Replaces Police Chief in Shuffle

Muscovite Replaces Police Chief in Shuffle

Published: June 16, 2011 (Issue # 1660)

One of the most influential figures in the city’s law enforcement authorities appears to have taken a major tumble on the career ladder. Lieutenant-General Vladislav Piotrovsky has failed to be reappointed to the position of head of the St. Petersburg police force, a job that he had held for the past four years. President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Piotrovsky from his post and appointed a Muscovite — Colonel-General Mikhail Sukhodolsky, the former first deputy Interior Minister of Russia — to replace him.

The future looks cloudy for Piotrovsky, who has not yet been officially appointed by the president to any other job, or voiced any concrete plans about the next step in his career.

Piotrovsky’s position began to look precarious a few months ago when he published an income declaration that raised eyebrows not only in the camp of his long-standing critics, but also among some of his top-ranking counterparts. Rashid Nurgaliev, Russia’s Interior Minister, made a statement about Piotrovsky’s departure, hinting that the St. Petersburg chief of police may have made enemies in high places.

“The commission did not have any issues with Vladislav Piotrovsky’s professional performance; Mr. Piotrovsky failed to pass the reappointment procedure; he failed to provide sufficient information on several questions of a personal nature that were posed to him during the examination,” Nurgaliev said. “Therefore, the commission voted unanimously not to reappoint him.” The personal issues appear to have outweighed what Nurgaliev described as Piotrovsky’s impeccable service.

While Piotrovsky’s dismissal is one of dozens of reshuffles undertaken by Medvedev as part of his campaign to improve the performance of the country’s police, it is revealing that it was only the St. Petersburg police chief’s departure that was given a specific — and unflattering — explanation from Nurgaliev.

It is also notable that although Piotrovsky himself filed a letter of resignation in early June, Medvedev chose to officially “not reappoint” him rather than simply accept his resignation. 

Both Nurgaliev and Medvedev also ignored Piotrovsky’s recommendation that an experienced local policeman, Piotrovsky’s deputy Sergei Umnov, be appointed as a replacement. Instead, St. Petersburg is getting Moscow’s Sukhodolsky, for whom the St. Petersburg placement is technically a step down from his first deputy minister position.

The future of Piotrovsky, who has kept his rank, is unclear. Some members of the local political establishment have speculated that the disgraced former head of the police might go into politics, but they stop short of suggesting with which political party he would affiliate himself.

Vyacheslav Makarov, a veteran United Russia lawmaker with the St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly,  told reporters that Piotrovsky would make a valuable asset as a parliamentarian. “The entire career of Mr. Piotrovsky is a perfect example of admirable professionalism; it is a real pity to see him quit his post,” Makarov said.

Piotrovsky himself appears to be toying with the idea.

“I am not a man of politics, but I would not rule out the possibility of going into politics,” Piotrovsky told Kommersant newspaper.

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