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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Foreigners Beat the Rise in Moscow Crime

The number of crimes against foreigners in Moscow dropped for the first time in five years during the first four months of 1994, a police official said Wednesday, although he noted that overall crime was up. Viktor Seroshtan, head of the police Special Service Directorate, told a press conference that there were 464 crimes committed against foreigners from January through April, compared with 525 over the same period in 1993, representing a drop of almost 12 percent. Last August, the same official reported a 43 percent increase in crime against foreigners in the first seven months of 1993. A number of foreign representatives, however, cast doubt on the figures, saying they were under the impression that crimes against foreigners were still on the rise. Viktor Gladkikh, a senior Interior Ministry official, said it was too early to speak about any permanent decrease in crimes against foreigners. "The beginning of the year is a very short period to make serious conclusions," he said. "For example, there were 30 car thefts over the four months of this year, compared with 22 over the same period last year." According to police statistics, the general crime rate in Moscow increased by 7.8 percent over the first four months of last year with 32,089 cases. The number of serious crimes -- murders, rapes, serious physical injuries -- increased by 5.1 percent, Seroshtan said. Seroshtan attributed the decline in crime against foreigners to successful police efforts to "convince foreigners to change their carefree behavior and become more vigilant." Seroshtan said there were 54 assaults on foreigners this year, compared with 114 over the four months in 1993. The number of robberies was also down 30 percent to 47 incidents, he said. Seroshtan said the most frequent victims over the first four months of this year were: Bulgarians, 111 incidents, Germans, 41, Americans, 35, Vietnamese, 34, citizens of the former Yugoslavia, 27, Mongolians, 26, Chinese, 19 and British, 17. "The most common crimes are car thefts," Seroshtan said. "We persistently recommend that all foreigners keep their cars in paid parking lots or use alarm systems," he said. Sonja Burnaska, press attach? at the Bulgarian Embassy, said thefts of embassy cars were very widespread in the city, noting that her own was stolen. "I cannot say that there is a fall in the crime rate against foreigners in the city," she said. Enno Barker, the first counsellor of the German Embassy, said he "did not feel" there had been any decrease in crimes against his countrymen. "Police statistics do not cover all the crimes against foreigners," he said. "We know that not all German businessmen appeal to police when they have troubles." Bob Schenk, deputy director of the American Chamber of Commerce, also said he did not believe that crime against foreigners had decreased. "My impression, and it is only personal, is that it has increased," he said. "The pressure on business has increased quite a bit, with the mafia soliciting extortion."