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Have Russian cops ever helped you? Facebook users share stories about the helpfulness, or lack thereof, of local police

Pavel Golovkin / AP / Scanpix / LETA

Daniel Trabun, a Russian journalist who’s worked at Yandex, Esquire Russia, Afisha, Look at Me, and The Village, invited his Facebook readers on Wednesday to share stories about their personal encounters with police officers, describing а recent — and apparently deeply unpleasant — brush with the law. “I tried to understand what this was about, and then it came to me: never once in my life has a Russian police officer ever helped me in any way,” Trabun wrote, saying that he can’t even get road directions from Russian cops. Wondering if his nasty experiences are an exception, Trabun asked readers on Facebook to say (in comments on his post) if Russian police officers have ever helped them out. Most of the responses describe negative encounters, but a few Facebook users say they have had positive interactions with law enforcement. Meduza translates some of the most memorable accounts.

👮🏻🌃 Victoria Samokhina: One time a policeman told me how to get somewhere, and he even accompanied me through a dark alleyway. All my other experiences speaking [to the police] have been exclusively negative.

🃏 Sascha Amato: They’ve never helped me, but as a child I used to play a lot of Magic the Gathering and one time at a game club a fight broke out between a scary dude with a scar across his face and another terrifying bearded guy, because someone stole some cards out of a Mercadian Masques set, and a policeman who was also there playing was the one to break it up. I remember that.

🍺 Masha Romanova: [They helped me] one time, when this drunk idiot was harassing me at a train station. But there have been many more times when they’ve completely ruined my day and acted totally rudely, knowing nobody could stop them.

🍾 Anna Sazonova: A couple of times, they’ve helped with directions. Once, a bunch of drunk guys broke in through the front door of my parent’s apartment at three in the morning, believing that someone in our home had thrown a bottle out the window at their car. One of the drunks was a police officer (not in uniform, but anyway). The police report somehow got “lost,” and the case never went anywhere.

🚗🍸 Ani Sarkisian: In 2013, they made me call my dad, so he could pay them a bribe for pulling me over while drunk. Needless to say, it would have been better if I’d lost my license!

🥙 Kim Belov: They’ve helped me many times. Once when I was in an accident, they let me sleep the night at the station, and brought me some sandwiches in the morning. Another time, they saved me from a fight, arresting the guys who attacked me, and they let me go, even though I was drunk.

🚸 Ksenia Oshurko: In the early '90s, some maniac dragged my brother from a playground. Even though he kicked and screamed, nobody intervened, but it was a police officer who saved him and arrested the maniac. And I’m not sure if this counts, but eight years ago Max and I had to race to the maternity ward, and a traffic cop pulled us over. But when he saw what was happening, he wished us on our way and told us to drive carefully.

🏳️‍🌈☦️ Masha Kushnir: I was recently talking with a friend who went to an LGBT rights rally in Tbilisi. Priests and Christian Orthodox activists also showed up, and started behaving aggressively, as I understand it. “And then the police took us to the city’s outskirts,” my friend told me. I figured that it would be the same [as in Russia]: detentions and police vans. But it turns out that the police on the contrary were taking them farther from the scene in order to PROTECT them. I was very surprised, realizing that it had never even occurred to me to associate the police with protection.

💸 Igor Shumskiy: Police officers have helped me get rid of extra cash, though I myself have a hard time understanding how it was “extra.”

💘 Polina Bragina: One time I asked a police officer to help take my lost grandfather home. He told me that I should “fulfill my civic duty” on my own, but he agreed to file a police report, and later used my phone number from the report to call me up and ask to go out on a date. That’s the last time I expect any help from the police.

🔑 Anna Pavlyuchkova: They helped me find out that I’m not а sissy. Two guys [police officers] tried to force my father to bring his car to the impound so they could sort out a fine (he’d forgotten his registration at home). My dad refused, but the guys insisted — first with words, but then they started grabbing his hands and slamming them down on the hood, trying to take his keys. That’s when I jumped out of the car, ran up to them, and whacked one of them in the head. I nailed him in the police cap. Both of the guys were startled, they let my father go, and I found out that I’m no sissy. So thanks for that. This was in ‘96. I was 16 years old.

⚓️🔥 Anatoly Ivanov: While rafting in Bashkiria, after a whole series of events, I had to get out of the river and walk a long way through the forest. A bunch of police officers and emergency workers arrived, and helped us pull out the raft and our other things. We were soaked, and they warmed us up and fed us vodka.

📱 Sergei Blokhin: Once I got an email saying, “Hello, we have caught a thief who was in possession of your iPhone. Come to this police station in order to claim it.” It turns out that the police contact Apple in these situations, and the company provides the email address of the owner of the stolen phone. I came in, and they returned my iPhone, and then they asked me, “But why didn’t you file a police report or call us, when your iPhone was stolen?” I answered, “You see, I’m from Russia, and nobody there calls the police when his iPhone is stolen in the street, because everyone knows the police won’t help.” Then they told me, “Well welcome to Germany!” (Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention that this was in Berlin.)

Translations by Kevin Rothrock