Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin have called for tougher measures against crime, including the “physical elimination” of criminals who offer armed resistance to the authorities. During a visit Saturday (November 28) to the Kemerovo region, Stepashin said: “If there are armed gangs offering armed resistance then they must be destroyed.” Primakov, during a meeting Saturday with local officials in Belgorod, said: “We must really talk, as the interior minister said, about physical liquidation of those who kill women and children.” Both men called for tighter control over the activities of private security firms, many of which, law enforcement officials claim, are fronts for mafia gangs. Primakov also backed legislation mandating fifteen years’ imprisonment for illegally possessing a weapon. First Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasiliev said that the crime situation has worsened considerably over the course of this year, connected with Russia’s economic crisis (NTV, November 29), while Deputy Interior Minister Kolesnikov predicted that Russia would end the year with a total of 30,000 murders. Twenty-four thousand so far have been committed since January (RTR, November 29). Amidst accusations that dozens of criminals are running in St. Petersburg’s municipal elections, Stepashin and Justice Minister Pavel Krasheninnikov have called for changes in legislation which would allow background checks of candidates to the State Duma (Izvestia, November 27).
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