Russia creates 'police crimes' unit
Moscow - Russia on Wednesday created a special unit to investigate crimes committed by the country's vast but corruption-laden police force.
The powerful Investigative Committee's decision to form the unit follows a spate of reports of police torture in the country's prisons and a new focus on the problem in Russia's Kremlin-controlled media.
"The need to create such a special unit is based on objective reasons," the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
It said investigators currently looking into police crimes run into "certain difficulties" because officers and their bosses often use their professional skills "to mislead the investigation and avoid criminal responsibility".
Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev was forced to report to parliament last week about a spike in reported police violence and other abuses.
The recent death in custody of a petty crime suspect after being raped by officers with a champagne bottle has focussed attention on the problem which has dogged Russia for years.
Investigators said they have received 65 complaints against the same police precinct in the central Russian region of Tatarstan since the case initially came to light last month.
Russia's outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev had made police reforms one of the planks of his four years in power.
But he was recently forced to admit that his campaign to improve the police force may take years.