In the past few years there has been a drop in the number of what could be qualified as contract murders, said Yuri Lekanov, head of the Criminology Department of the Russian General Prosecutor's Office, at a press conference in Moscow on Thursday.
Yuri Lekanov said that if from 600 to 700 such murders were committed annually in 1993-1995, in 2000 there were only 386, and in 2001, only 327.
Lekanov noted that during the past year cases of 143 contract murders were handed over to court. Nevertheless, he stressed that the clear-up rate for such crimes is not as high as may be gathered from these figures. Contract murders are often recognized as such only when they get to the stage of being solved.
Lekanov also said that in only 20-30% of the solved murders those who ordered them are brought to court. In the remaining 70-80% of the cases only those who carry them out are brought to court, specified Lekanov.
Lekanov said that 90% of the contract murders in Russia are committed for economic motives, with the other murders being "household" killings. Only very few political murders are committed, stated Lekanov. He considered as such the murders of journalists Dmitry Kholodov and Larisa Yudina, and of Vice-Premier Viktor Polyanichko.
Yuri Lekanov also drew the attention of journalists to the great number of murders committed in Russia as a whole. According to his information, an average of 34 murders are registered in Russia per 10,000 of the population, whereas the corresponding number in the USA is 9.