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Fake degrees threaten Russia's economic security, official says

MOSCOW, June 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's black market in fake diplomas has reached epidemic proportions and poses a danger to the country's economy, an Interior Ministry official said Wednesday.

"The absence of a centralized data base for identification and personification of issued diplomas has made the market of fake documents on education practically uncontrollable," said Sergei Lavrov, the head of the Interior Ministry's economic security department.

Lavrov said that advertisements on foreign web sites offering help in getting Russian degrees meant that the problem taken on an international scale, and that the price for some diplomas was above $20,000.

He added that the number of people with fake degrees occupying senior posts, including in law-enforcement bodies, also presented a threat.

Lavrov said the Interior Ministry had proposed forming a special group with the Ministry of Education and Science that would draft proposals to increase the effectiveness of the fight against legal violations in the education sector.

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