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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Murders Fell by 10% Last Year

The number of murders nationwide fell by almost 10 percent last year, while a majority of the victims were killed in spontaneous -- often drunken -- conflicts with people they knew, a senior Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.

The Interior Ministry registered 20,056 murders across the country last year, down 9.8 percent compared to 2007, Andrei Kucheryavy, interim head of the ministry's criminal investigations department, told a news conference.

Eighty-eight percent of last year's murders were solved, Kucheryavy said.

More than half of all murders are typically fueled by alcohol, committed in the heat of arguments between acquaintances and relatives, he said.

The murder weapons in these disputes are commonly "a kitchen knife, an ax and other weapons that happen to be at hand," Kucheryavy said.

Contract killings are rare, Kucheryavy said, with police registering just 48 last year. Crime experts say, however, that the number of contract murders is typically underreported by authorities, often because the victims' bodies are never found.

Fees for contract murders begin at a few thousand rubles, said Kucheryavy, who said hired killers were undeservedly romanticized in film and print.

Most hitmen are "degenerate people, some of them misfits, who have lost their moral foundations," he said, Interfax reported.