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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mayor Seeks Federal Help To Fight Moscow's Crime

Alarmed at the crime wave sweeping the capital, Mayor Yury Luzhkov has asked federal authorities to grant added powers to law enforcement officials, saying that otherwise he will take "independent measures" to fight crime. "The earth must burn under the feet of criminals and those who use terrorism in attaining their goals," Luzhkov said in a statement issued Thursday. "I appeal to the president, the Russian government and the Federal Assembly to take urgent measures." President Boris Yeltsin, speaking at a Kremlin press conference Friday, promised tough measures against crime groups that sought to establish their authority in the economy and "are dying to be involved in politics. "There should be a shield, but we have not succeeded in creation of such a shield," Yeltsin said. "Crime has become the scourge of Russia." The Russian government Thursday approved a draft of a tough anti-crime law, but the State Duma will not begin debating the bill until later this month. Pyotr Gavrichkov, an official from City Hall's liaison office with the city police, said that Luzhkov's statement indicated the mayor would not wait long for federal crime-busting measures. "Our mayor is a very resolute man," Gavrichkov said. "He was very infuriated by the assassination against the head of LogoVAZ." Gavrichkov was referring to Boris Berezovsky, the general director of the auto manufacturers LogoVAZ and the All-Russian Auto Alliance, who was injured in a car bomb attack Tuesday in central Moscow that killed his driver and hospitalized six bystanders. Moscow's streets, once nearly bereft of violent crime, have become the scene of almost daily bombings and shootings as organized gangs fight for turf. Bankers and leading businessmen like Berezovsky have become common targets of the violence. Police say the number of serious crimes -- murders, rapes and severe physical injures -- has doubled over the last four years, numbering 513,900 cases in 1993. Luzhkov's statement did not specify what extra powers he required, but said they should allow authorities to "restore the order within the shortest time." Andrei Varchenya, a spokesman for the mayor's office, declined to comment on Luzhkov's statement, saying that only the mayor knew what he meant by "extra powers" and "independent measures."