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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prosecutors Say Police Hiding Crimes

Police detectives in Moscow continue to cover up crimes to boost their success rates and reduce overall crime figures, the two main criteria used in evaluating their performance and determining promotion, senior prosecutors said Friday.

Checks by prosecutors revealed that 2,300 crimes went unreported by city police from January through March, Deputy Prosecutor General Nikolai Savchenko said at a news conference Friday. Last year, checks found that the city's police had covered up about 7,000 crimes — including 51 murders — Moscow city prosecutor Anatoly Zuyev told reporters at the same news conference.

Savchenko said he was puzzled by city police reports that overall crime levels were down this year, "as there were no visible reasons for this decline." Savchenko, who oversees Moscow and the rest of the Central Federal District, said his office would investigate whether the drop in figures was caused by a cover-up.

In the Moscow region, the investigation turned up about 1,000 unreported crimes, including 72 murders, earlier this year, Savchenko said, without specifying the exact time period.

Police investigators' dependence on high success rates in solving crimes for bonuses and promotion has traditionally been a reason for police officers not to file reports on crimes they think cannot be easily solved.

If caught out not reporting crimes, investigators often manage to avoid responsibility. Only 51 percent of police officers caught not reporting crimes are disciplined or prosecuted, Savchenko said.

Russian media regularly report cases of crimes, including serious ones, going unreported. Last year, a policeman in the Smolensk region was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison on charges of covering up a murder he witnessed that was committed by his colleague.

In a case last month, a senior police officer in Belgorod region was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of concealing a 2003 realty scam in which a middleman brought an impostor instead of the vendor to sign a sale contract with buyers. The policeman detained the middleman but did not record the offense. After receiving a bribe of $1,300 and a new toilet seat from the middleman, the officer let him go free and destroyed evidence of the crime.