Last Friday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Colonel General Mikhail Sukhodolsky, police chief of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. Several years ago many expected him to replace Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, now – experts say – his career came to an end.
The talks about Sukhodolsky’s career starting to slide down began early last week, when a group of 30 Interior Ministry’s inspectors arrived to St. Petersburg, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported. The reason for a random inspection was the death of the 15-year-old Nikita Leontyev, who was beaten to death in a local police precinct. He was arrested for allegedly robbing a woman.
On Saturday Deputy Interior Minister Sergei Gerasimov commented on Sukhodolsky’s career prospects, “if the minister takes a decision, and it will be most probably taken, he will be fired from the Interior Ministry.” Sukhodolsky’s career in the Interior Ministry came to an end, Novye Izvestiya quoted Moscow's police trade union chief Mikhail Pashkin as saying. Moreover, Sukhodolsky’s decision to appoint his people from other regions to leading positions in the St. Petersburg police department also caused discontent.
On Friday Mikhail Sukhodolsky, St. Petersburg and Leningrad region chief of police, who was considered Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev’s main rival, was fired scandalously, Moskovsky Komsomolets wrote. Their confrontation lasted a long time, it began when Sukhodolsky worked in the central office serving as the minister’s deputy and first deputy. Nurgaliyev won this battle, although we won’t have the heart to say he is a winner, the daily reported. Ending this round he finally lost the match – the Interior Ministry’s doubtful image received an irreparable blow.
Interior Ministry’s sources told Kommersant business daily that the reasons for Mikhail Sukhodolsky’s dismissal was his strong criticism of Rashid Nurgaliyev’s decision to send an inspection to St. Petersburg and his defiant non-attendance of the Interior Ministry’s annual collegium. Moreover, it became known that seven months of his rule were accompanied by a tough conflict between the team he brought in and the police staff. Rank and file policemen even began to collect signatures to request the country’s authorities to replace their chief.