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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gun-Related Crimes, Monsters and Big Bells

Since the demise of the Soviet Union and the opening up of our country, people have learned about violent crimes that occur here. William Kerr of Halifax, Canada, asked specifically for statistics on gun-related crimes.

Every day, you can read about someone being shot by contract killers, not to mention bloody clashes between criminal groups. Or you read that the editor of a radio station has been shot; the next day, it’s the chief of a police department — and so it goes. In five months, there were 567 contract killings in this country — that’s 113 a month!

One hundred thousand firearms were stolen in a single year, most of them from the army and firearms factories. Weapons are often stolen part by part, then later reassembled. During one raid on a criminal group, authorities uncovered 22 Kalashnikov sub-machine guns and 2,000 cartridges. The suspects said they had bought the weapons from Chechens. The black market of firearms is extensive.

Moving from monstrous crimes to monsters, Robert Nelson of Honolulu, Hawaii, wanted to know if there are any tales about a monster in Lake Baikal — the deepest lake in the world and more mysterious than Loch Ness.

Sorry to disappoint you, Robert, but there are no monsters in Lake Baikal. But several years ago, there was a Yakut Nessie — or so people thought — in Yakutia, northeast Siberia. Similarly, people reported sighting a so-called Koh-Kol monster in Kazakhstan.

And from the ridiculous to the sublime, James Hughes of Atlanta, Georgia, asked, how many bells does the main cathedral in the Kremlin have?

The Ivan the Great Bell Tower has 21 bells in its main tower and various belfries. The largest bell is the Bell of the Assumption, weighing 64 tons. The 81-meter bell tower is an architectural wonder, built in 1505 by architect Bon Fryazin. It functioned as the Kremlin’s main watchtower, from which sentries could see as far as 30 kilometers.

During their retreat in 1812, Napoleon’s troops tried to blow up the bell tower, but they succeeded only in destroying the belfry and an extension on the northern side. These were then restored by architect Domenico Gilardi. The stairway leading to the top has 329 steps. Incidentally, the Ivan the Great Bell Tower with its gold cupola can be seen from the windows of the Voice of Russia. In Soviet times, its bells were silent. But after a pause of three-quarters of a century, they ring out for all to hear. Beside the bell tower stands the biggest bell in the world: the Tsar’s Bell, which weighs 200 tons. And did you know that Big Ben, which strikes the hours in London, was actually cast in Russia?

Joe Adamov hosts "Moscow Mailbag" on the Voice of Russia.