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Monday, 11 February, 2002, 13:34 GMT
Putin attacks crime-ridden Russia
Police in Moscow
Police are not doing enough, says Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that organised crime is still controlling large parts of the country's economy - and not enough is being done to combat it.

He said many businessmen still faced interference from both criminals and corrupt government officials - despite efforts to clean up the sector.

Organised crime still controls a considerable portion of the country's economy

President Putin
And up to 7,000 murderers had not been brought to justice, partly because of "feeble" law enforcement, he said.

"Murders, kidnappings, criminal attacks and robberies have turned into something of a fact of life," Mr Putin told a meeting attended by some of Russia's most senior police officers.

His comments follow a spate of apparent contract killings of businessmen, including the shooting last week of one of Russia's top advertising executives, Vladimir Kanevsky.

And even as Mr Putin was speaking, Russian police reported that seven people had been found dead in the village of Psotino, outside Moscow, after an apparent axe attack.

In his address, Mr Putin said that Russia's businessmen were "being squeezed by criminal activity on the one side... and illegal government activity," on the other.

Police car in Moscow
Law enforcement agencies are accused of "feebleness"
"Organised crime still controls a considerable portion of the country's economy," he told a meeting of the board of the prosecutor-general's office.

He said the police should crack down on corrupt officials as well as the mafia.

Three million crimes were registered in Russia in 2001, said Mr Putin, and almost all walks of life in all Russian regions were being hit.

"The proportion of grave and very grave crimes is on the increase," he said.

What is the point of toughening punishment if we can't ensure the inevitability of punishment

President Putin
"Hundreds of thousands of criminals are still at large. Among them there are more than 7,000 murderers who became fugitives from justice last year."

Law enforcement agencies were, at times, displaying "feebleness", the president added.

"What is the point of toughening punishment if we can't ensure the inevitability of punishment?" he asked.

Recent high-profile killings have included:

  • Vladimir Bogatov, businessman, local politician and former parliamentary deputy, shot dead in Chito, Siberia, last week
  • Leonid Bochkov, director of Pacific port of Nakhodka, shot dead in November 2001.
  • Anatoly Tikhnenko, head of the Russian federal chamber of notaries - shot dead at his home in March 2001
  • Three people shot dead in St Petersburg in a suspected gangland killing in September 2000
Hundreds of people die every year in contract-style killings, but few of the killers are ever brought to justice.

President Putin pledged to crack down on the problem when he came to power, but it has continued to worsen.

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt
"Well connected criminals in Russia are still able to avoid going to trial"
See also:

07 Feb 02 | Europe
Moscow media boss murdered
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