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A lifetime of innovation


RUSSIA: Putin complains about criminals

President Vladimir Putin assailed Russia´s police force Monday for allowing hundreds of thousands of criminals to roam free, while the country´s top prosecutor urged a fiercer campaign against corruption, including within law enforcement agencies themselves. Addressing a meeting of top prosecutors from across the nation, Putin said 7,000 killers had escaped punishment last year and that hundreds of thousands of other criminals were at large. "Murders, kidnappings, assaults and robberies are becoming virtually everyday occurrences in our lives," Putin said. A total of 2.9 million crimes, the majority of them grave, were registered in Russia last year, up 0.5 percent up from the year before, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov told the meeting. A staggering 884,000 of them remained unsolved. Putin criticized prosecutors for suspending 1,300 criminal investigations illegally, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported, and said that more than 40,000 cases had been closed because investigators had not managed to identify any perpetrators, according to the Interfax news agency. He also said that 30,000 people go missing in Russia every year and are not found. Putin reiterated that he would not end Russia´s moratorium on capital punishment. Many Russians, including top officials, have called for an end to the moratorium the government imposed in 1996 to gain entrance to Europe´s leading human rights organization, the Council of Europe. "The relatives of murder victims have appealed to me to lift the moratorium on the death penalty, people are moved to do this not only because of criminals´ cruelty but also because of the frequent powerlessness of the law enforcement organs," Putin said. "But what sense is there in tougher punishment if we can´t guarantee the main factor, the irreversibility of punishment?" Alarmingly, Ustinov said, during audits of law enforcement agencies prosecutors found 122,000 crimes that police had overlooked, according to ITAR-Tass and Interfax. He urged a tighter campaign against the corruption that plagues every sector of Russian life and has scared away investors. First Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasiliyev said 382,000 economic crimes were reported last year, including 8,000 cases of corruption. He said 1,700 police officers were indicted for corruption or abuse of authority, but he insisted the fight against corruption was "under control," according to ITAR-Tass. Putin also called on police and prosecutors to help small and medium-sized businesses, saying they were caught between organized crime, which "controls a large part of the economy," and government officials acting illegally

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