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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police: Contract Murder Rate Falls in Russia

The number of contract murders in Russia fell sharply in 2000 compared to the previous year, while police are solving a larger percentage of the slayings, according to official statistics released Tuesday.

Police investigated 386 suspected cases of murder-for-hire in 2000, and sent 146 cases to court, said Alexander Kirushev, a chief investigator at Russia's Interior Ministry.

These figures compared favorably to 1999, when police investigated 591 suspected contract murders and sent 155 to court, he said.

Kirushev credited the improvement to better police work and a more stable economic environment.

"We see a positive tendency in contract murder," he said.

However, critics have frequently accused police of over-reporting the number of crimes solved.

Dozens of high-profile cases remain unsolved, including the 1998 murder of liberal lawmaker Galina Starovoitova and the 1995 slaying of television journalist Vladislav Listyev.

Meanwhile, the overall murder rate in Russia rose slightly in 2000 compared to 1999. Police reported 31,829 murders in 2000 and solved 24,993, compared to 31,140 reported and 24,513 solved in 1999.