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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Broadens Crackdown on Crime

The Moscow government has taken advantage of President Boris Yeltsin's decree granting police sweeping powers to fight organized crime by introducing its own measures in the capital that broaden the decree's scope, a spokesman for the mayor's office said Monday.

Igor Zverev said the measures, which had been approved June 28, envisaged new restrictions on granting Moscow residence permits -- propiska -- to people who had served prison sentences.

"We also appealed to the city Duma to pass a law to give police the right to detain people without residence documents for up a month to identify their background," Zverev said. "The city government's anti-crime actions stem from the Yeltsin decree."

Yeltsin issued the decree June 14, granting police sweeping powers to detain suspects for up to 30 days, to examine the financial affairs of anyone suspected of organized crime and to search offices and homes without a court order.

Moscow police have already started to detain suspects in organized crime activity for up to 30 days. Vladimir Vershkov, a city police spokesman, said last Friday that all those arrested since the June 14 decree on suspicion of involvement in organized crime were being held for up to 30 days.

Zverev said the new measures in Moscow included a temporary ban on licensing gun shops, and restricted the number of casinos in central Moscow to five and in other city districts to three.

Nadezhda Bogatikova, a human rights activist for Memorial, said the measures and the decree were illegal.

"This is total lawlessness," she said. "Things are going back to the old times. The city decree looks like an instruction on police actions in Soviet times."

Valery Serebryakov, the head of the Interior Ministry international department, said by phone that Albert Pacey, the director general of the National Criminal Intelligence Service, accompanied by a team of top British police officers, had come to Moscow Monday for a week-long trip. They would be discussing cooperation between Russian and British law enforcement bodies against organized crime.

Last week the director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louis Freeh, signed an agreement with Russian Interior Minister Viktor Yerin to cooperate in fighting mafia gangs in both countries.