Far Eastern crime situation: update

The Russian Far East still ranks among Russia's most crime-stricken territories. This was disclosed to correspondents at a briefing here today by acting Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev. Khabarovsk is the administrative center of the Khabarovsk territory, which is part and parcel of the Far Eastern federal district, and which also borders on north-east China.

In his words, the performance of territorial law enforcement agencies has mostly improved. For instance, 60 percent more contract slayings, as well as 7.8 percent more murders, were solved last year. Local authorities also solved 3.4 percent more crimes involving deliberate grave bodily harm, exposing three percent more illegal arrests, as well as 70.8 percent more kidnappings.

Instead of subsiding, regional crime rates continue to increase all the time. Meanwhile the number of solved crimes falls short of growing crime rates, Mr. Nurgaliyev told those present.

Russia's Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, who is conferring with the Far Eastern federal district's prosecutors and law enforcement officers in Khabarovsk, said his department wanted to ask some questions to Far Eastern governors. National Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev is also taking part in this conference.

However, Mr. Ustinov didn't name all those, who might have to answer such questions, stressing that they will be answered during the present-day investigation of criminal proceedings.

Among other things, criminal proceedings have been instituted against Kamchatka governor Mashkovtsev, who exceeded salmon-fishing quotas, thus inflicting losses to the tune of 7 billion roubles on the state (One dollar costs 29 roubles). The murder of Magadan governor Tsvetkov in Moscow is still being investigated. According to experts, this crime has something to do with the fishing mafia. The subsequent arrest and conviction of Tsvetkov's adviser Likhacheva only serve to confirm this fact.

Vladimir Ustinov declined to comment on the investigation of a criminal case involving Saratov governor Ayatskov, noting he didn't have the required information. The regional prosecutor's office is accusing Mr. Ayatskov of illegally exempting a private company from customs duties. Naturally enough, Mr. Ayatskov's decision wasn't motivated by altruistic considerations.

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