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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Defend Checks on Outsiders

Moscow's deputy police chief said Wednesday that a crackdown on non-Muscovites is needed in order to prevent further terrorist acts like the past week's two apartment bombings in southeast Moscow.

"This wave of crime and terrorism can only be effectively countered by a strengthening of the regime of registration for nonresidents in Moscow. This measure is fully supported by the majority of Muscovites, who wish to live calmly in their city," Alexander Veldyayev told journalists at a morning press briefing.

All citizens of Russia and other CIS countries who live in or visit Moscow but are not permanent residents must register with the city authorities, a requirement that critics say is unfairly used against people from the Caucasus.

Veldyayev said police would now be punishing registration violations with more than just the usual fine.

"We will take very harsh measures, including expulsion from the city of Moscow," he said.

When asked if such a move would violate the freedom of movement guaranteed by the Constitution, Veldyayev said it would be "voluntary expulsion."

Veldyayev also said that his department was carrying out re-registration of nonresidents. On Monday, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov announced that all "guests" of the city would have to re-register within three days.

Veldyayev said Wednesday that only citizens of CIS countries - and not visitors from the "far abroad" - would have to re-register and that people would not be required to pay the registration fee again.

Explaining the need to crack down on nonresidents, Veldyayev said that in the first eight months of this year, 13,000 crimes, or 32.7 percent of all solved crimes - including every fourth murder - were committed by non-Muscovites.

But he said the crackdown on registration would not be applied across the board. "We're not talking about elderly people, or people who came to study or for medical treatment," he said.

Police have been checking documents with unusual zeal since an explosion on Sept. 8 killed nearly 100 people in an apartment block on Ulitsa Guryanova in the city's southeastern outskirts.

Veldyayev said that between Friday and Tuesday, police uncovered 16,222 passport and registration violations.

Also in that time period, 1,055 arrests were made, including 27 on suspicions relating to the explosions, he said.

Following Luzhkov's instructions, police have conducted checks of stores, offices, storage rooms and basements located in residential buildings.

"In Moscow there is a total of 14,691 such spaces. All of them have been checked and double-checked," Veldyayev said. "We found a lot of interesting things there."

He said police personnel are working without days off. "Everyone on the street is in the residential sector," he said.

Responding to media reports that 02, the police emergency number, was not working effectively, Veldyayev said the service was overloaded and that local police telephone numbers had been posted in the entryways of each house.