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Russia puts over 250 people on Interpol's wanted list in 2007

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia put the details of 255 suspects or convicted criminals wanted by Russian law enforcement bodies on Interpol's wanted list, the crime organization's Russia chief told journalists on Wednesday.

Timur Lakhonin said of the 255 people wanted by Russian enforcement bodies this year, 105 were particularly dangerous offenders, adding that Interpol's foreign agencies had identified 99 suspects and detained 79 of those wanted.

He also said that since 1990 when Russia first joined Interpol, Russia had put 1,197 names on the wanted list of the world's largest international police organization, adding that "300 were accused of murder, 279 fraud and 100 of terrorism."

Russia extradited 20 suspects wanted by other states this year, with Germany, Lithuania, Belgium, Poland, Ukraine and the Czech Republic being Russia's most active Interpol partners, Lakhonin said.

The official reiterated that Russian businessman Andrei Lugovoi, chief suspect in the London murder of Kremlin critic and security service defector Alexander Litvinenko in November 2006, would not be extradited to Britain

"This issue is the sole responsibility of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, which makes decisions whether to extradite people. However, Lugovoi will never be extradited because he is a Russian citizen, and this contradicts the country's Constitution," Lakhonin said.

Russia has issued multiple arrest warrants for fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky in his absence and requested that the U.K. extradite him on numerous occasions, which London has refused to do. Berezovsky has been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom and, reportedly, citizenship. He denies, however, that he has U.K. citizenship.

Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev is wanted in Russia for acts of terrorism. He was granted political asylum in the U.K. after fleeing Russia in 2003. London has refused Moscow's repeated requests for his extradition.

Lakhonin complained that "political gambling" and "double standards" were obstacles in the fight against international crime.

He referred to the hunt for Magomed Uspayev, wanted since 1999 for a number of crimes, including the abduction of journalist Vladimir Yatsina, who died in captivity in February 2000.

Lakhonin said Uspayev was hiding in Sweden, where the authorities were refusing to extradite him to Russia citing the European Convention on Human Rights.

"They say Uspayev could face inhumane treatment in Russia, but when it comes to terrorists, we do not need such 'humanism'," Lakhonin said.

Speaking of the most perpetrated international crimes, Lakhonin said the bulk were financial offenses and car thefts.

"Of the total number of international crimes investigated by Interpol, more than half were economic offenses and vehicle thefts - 38% and 15%, respectively. Organized crime has subsided, with a mere 5% of all felonies committed in the area," the Russian official said.

Interpol's Stolen Motor Vehicles (SMV) database includes 42,500 cars stolen in Russia this year, with the number of car thefts increasing over the past few years.

Interpol, designed to facilitate cross-border police cooperation, has 186 member countries.

The organization states on its website that its SMV database contains 4 million records submitted by 116 member countries. "This year, law enforcement officers have identified on average 2,400 vehicles a month as stolen using the database," the international organization reports.

Lakhonin described as "a breakthrough" the fact that the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, the Federal Security Service and 39 Interpol offices would obtain direct and remote access to the organization's databases through global telecom systems next year.

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