Number of Sex Crimes Are Soaring in Moscow Region

The number of sex crimes committed in the Moscow region jumped by 31 percent to 135 in the first half of this year, while the national figure fell by 13 percent, Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin said Wednesday.

Bastrykin expressed concern about the rise in sexual offenses in the Moscow region, which surrounds but does not include the capital.

"It is of the utmost importance that we learn the reasons behind the increase in rapes and determine the common characteristics of the crimes committed," Bastrykin said at a news conference, Interfax reported.

He did not give any statistics for Moscow itself.

Bastrykin emphasized, however, that the overall number of crimes reported in the Moscow region had dropped 5 percent to 63,781 during the first half of 2008, compared to the same period last year.

Despite the decrease, Bastrykin noted that overall crimes fell by a steeper 8 percent in the Central Federal District, which includes the Moscow region, and 9 percent in all of Russia.

Turning to corruption, which President Dmitry Medvedev has promised to root out, Bastrykin said 1,403 corruption cases were opened in the first six months, an increase of 11 percent from last year.

He urged law enforcement officials to use "resolute action to eliminate this evil."