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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Tops Murder Table




Moscow is the murder capital of Europe, according to a survey by the British Home Office that was released in London this week.


The survey, which was compiled from official homicide figures provided by police forces in selected cities across Europe and North America, showed that the Russian capital, with 18.1 murders per 100,000 residents registered last year, has a murder rate that surpasses all other major cities in Europe.


Moscow trailed well behind Washington, D.C., with 69.3 killings per 100,000 residents, but outdid New York City, which reported 16.8 murders for every 100,000 residents. In Europe, the Finnish capital, Helsinki, is Moscow's nearest runner-up with 12.5 homicides, the survey said.


Figures provided by the Moscow police put the total number of murders in the city last year at 1,477, compared with 1,544 in 1996. Kirill Mazurin, spokesman for the Moscow police's criminal investigation directorate, which deals with homicides, said the city's rating is not likely to improve soon.


"Nothing will change [for the better] as long as people continue to drink so much and argue," said Mazurin. He added that the biggest threat to life is not from street crime but domestic violence, which accounts for about 70 percent of homicides in Russia.


The survey was commissioned by London's metropolitan police force to demonstrate the effectiveness of policing in the British capital. The survey does not attempt to analyze the reasons for the different homicide levels, Home Office spokeswoman Sarah Jones said.


London emerged near the bottom of the list with 2.1 murders per 100,000 residents in 1997. The Belgian capital, Brussels, was the safest city in the survey, with only 0.4 homicides for every 100,000 people.


Russian police are often accused of failing to register crimes so that their crime clear-up statistics look better than they actually are. Homicide statistics are seen as accurate, though, due to the difficulties in covering up such a grave crime.


Nonetheless, a recent check by prosecutors in St. Petersburg revealed that police had covered up 20 murders in the city last year.