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Crime and punishment in modern Russia

Russian Policeman Near Police Van with Face Turned Away Russia's murder rate could be as high as 46,200 for 2009 ­ despite official statistics saying just 18,200 people were killed.

A study from the expert institute of the Academy of the Prosecutor General's office claimed that the real figures are alarmingly higher than official numbers.

The findings back up a claim from President Medvedev that statistics were often "rubbish", as he said in a meeting with security officials in Nov. 2010 in Yessentuki.

Missing murders

According to a team of experts led by Professor Sergei Inshakov, many fatal attacks are not classed as murders because the victim is not found dead at the scene of the crime.

A person beaten to the point of death who is taken to hospital and dies some hours later is not classed as a murder victim.

Meanwhile the crime listed in the Russian Criminal Code as "grievous bodily harm resulting in the death of the victim" also obscures the true figures, the BBC Russian service reported on gzt.ru.

Rising crime

Based on Inshakov's efforts, researchers can see a clear trend in rising murder rates. In 2001 there were 34,200 murders according to official figures ­ but while the same official figures point to a drop in killings, the study shows a year-on-year increase of 2.4 per cent each year.

And it highlights why Russia is the world's third most violent country, with 14.2 murders per 100,000 people putting it behind South Africa and Brazil.

Curiously South Africa, Brazil and Russia have been selected as football World Cup hosts for consecutive tournaments from 2010 to 2018.

Russia is the only European nation to feature on the 20 most murderous countries, nestling between Namibia and Surinam.

And the 46,000 murders in 2009 represent three times the USSR's death toll in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

They also dwarf the 16,000 annual murders in the US, with twice the population and fewer restrictions on firearms.


Officially Russia saw 3 million crimes in 2009 ­ but according to Inshakov and his colleagues the true figure was closer to 26 million.

Most petty crime goes unreported, due in part to a lack of trust in the police.

And the Prosecutor General's study team highlighted a direct link between police figures and political pressures to show that things are getting better.

The findings talk of a "fight against the concealment of crime", likening the process to the bad habits of Soviet industry where producing the right numbers was often more important than producing useful products.


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