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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Honor Their Fallen Comrades

Somber-faced cops laid flowers on graves of their perished comrades across Russia on Friday morning before returning to their offices to celebrate Police Day.

Russian news agencies reported memorial services were held by policemen in all major cities of the country, where an average of 400 to 450 cops are killed every year in addition to those who die fighting in Chechnya.

The casualty toll has grown steadily both in police and military units ever since the Kremlin launched a military campaign in Chechnya in October of last year. The Interior Ministry said Friday that it has lost 1,373 of its servicemen since the beginning of the campaign.

President Vladimir Putin met with Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo and his deputy Ivan Golybev in the Kremlin on Friday afternoon to discuss setting up a nationwide charity organization to provide aid to families of "all perished warriors of Russia."

Putin praised Rushailo and his subordinates for not "wavering in such a difficult time" when "the criminal underworld has entered our lives with particular cruelty." The president went on to urge policemen to protect "every person in every Russian city and settlement."

While honoring their fallen brothers-in-arms, police commanders didn’t miss a chance to trumpet their achievements ahead of evening celebrations, which featured a Police Day concert at the Kremlin. Cop films were shown on all three major national television channels.

Crime fell by 3 percent in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period of last year, Deputy Interior Minister Golybev was quoted as saying in Friday’s Krasnaya Zvezda.

Police boast that they have solved 76 percent of crimes this year, although experts say they believe the official statistics are inflated and a more realistic rate is around 40 percent.

Golybev didn’t disclose the total number of crimes committed in Russia so far this year. The first half of the year saw almost 1.5 million crimes registered in Russia, including more than 53,000 in Moscow, the Interior Ministry’s official statistics show.

Moscow has a higher number of crimes than any other Russian city, despite the fact that it boasts one of the largest urban police forces in the world.

Moscow has as many as 150,000 policemen compared with New York City’s 40,000, while the two cities have roughly equal population, according to a recent report in Novaya Gazeta.

And plans are afoot to further bolster the Moscow force, which already includes exotic units such as the ecological police. The city government has drafted a plan to set up a tourist police force in Moscow, which a British Home Office survey a few years ago estimated had become the murder capital of Europe.

The 300-member special force is to be operational by 2006 and will patrol Moscow’s main tourist areas, such as Red Square, according to Sergei Ananov, deputy chairman of the city government’s tourism department.

Ananov said members of the planned unit will speak basic English and wear conspicuous uniforms so they can be easily spotted by those seeking their help.

He said the force will help to improve Moscow’s image as a safe city in the eyes of potential foreign visitors, some of whom "think that we have cats being eaten, bears prowling the streets and Chechens with sabers here."