Moscow Police Use Civilians' Cars as Blockade to End Highway Chase

Moscow cops ordered a car to park in the middle of a highway to catch suspects.

ByABC News
March 12, 2010, 8:38 AM

MOSCOW, March 12, 2009 -- Stanislav Sutyagin was planning to sell his large black Mercedes but it now has a huge dent in its right side. He's getting money to fix the damage, but it's not coming from his insurance company or the driver who hit him. The government is compensating Sutyagin after Moscow cops ordered him to park his car in the middle of a five-lane highway to block a car they were chasing.

The suspects slammed into the car carrying Sutyagin and a friend, but kept on going. The traffic policemen who had ordered Sutyagin to place his car sideways, and stay in it, told him that neither he nor the other two cars in the barricade would be reimbursed for damages because the fleeing silver Audi managed to escape.

On Thursday, the head of Moscow's traffic police was dragged in front of Russia's State Duma to explain the behavior of his forces. He said the officer in charge of the policemen who carried out the operation had been fired. Russia's interior minister called the behavior "unacceptable" and promised compensation for the three drivers.

The "human shield" scandal, as it has come to be known, erupted as Russia was dealing with another traffic accident that led to an intervention by President Dmitry Medvedev.

In that incident, a chauffeured Mercedes carrying a vice president of Lukoil, one of Russia's biggest oil companies, crashed into a smaller vehicle, killing a well-known gynecologist and her daughter-in-law. The executive escaped with minor injuries.

In an open letter to Medvedev from some of Russia's cultural elite, the police were accused of covering up for a powerful executive after they failed to open a case for two days. The police report said the small Citroen pulled out in front of the Mercedes and stated that no cameras captured the Feb. 25 crash.

A video emerged the next week showing the larger car moving into the lane dividing the two directions of traffic. The crash itself was obscured by a sign, but eyewitnesses and family members contest the police report, saying they will take the case to court.