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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Crime Fight: Hit or Miss?

Moscow police have launched a series of one-day drives to clear the streets of drunks, prostitutes and petty criminals, but according to the men on the beat, the cleanup effort is having little effect.

"There's a little problem with these operations: You cannot tell criminals to perform illegal acts on a certain day", said Vladimir Kirillov, head of Kievsky Station militia.

Wednesday's action was part of a new practice in which several times a month the police are asked to concentrate on moving Moscow's vagrants and petty criminals off the streets.

With crime rates in the Russian capital spiraling, Kirillov said the oneday drives are inadequate. The railway station police would need "a special operation every day" to keep order there, he said.

"For instance, we have no cargo trains coming in today, only passenger ones", said Kirillov, noting that robbery rates rise when cargo trains arrive carrying valuable merchandise.

Kirillov said his station arrested and fined about 40 people daily for minor offenses and few if any are subject to further prosecution.

According to Yury Belusov, who is in charge of the operation at militia station No. 88 near Mayakovsky Square, the present laws do not help the police make the city safer.

"We cannot hold them here indefinitely", he said. "All we can do is fine those who have the cash to pay".

Inflation has made the fines insignificant so they have little deterrent effect, he said. Belusov cited a law requiring visitors from the former Soviet republics to register while in Moscow as an example. Though aimed at controlling mafia rings from the Caucasus, the penalty for being caught without registration is just 425 rubles -- the price of a cheap pack of cigarettes.

"This is just a waste of time", he said. "If they come here to trade drugs, they can easily pay the fine 10 times a day"

Visitors without residence documents make up the largest part of all arrests, police at three stations said. In most cases, offenders are set free after a few hours, only to be brought back during the next operation.

Kirillov walked out of the Kievsky railway station and encountered familiar faces selling Ukrainian coupons.

"Hope you are in good health today, comrade Kirillov", one said.