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Russian president worried by unsolved crimes, extremism


MOSCOW, February 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev voiced his concerns on Wednesday over the large number of unsolved crimes and growing extremism in the country.

"Last year alone, more than 2,000 murders remained unsolved, and dozens of thousands of people remain missing. The number of extremism-related crimes has increased by almost one-third," Medvedev said during a meeting at the Prosecutor General's Office.

He urged prosecutors to work harder to acquire the skills required for jury trials. "This is a separate art, a legal art, which needs to be developed," the president said, adding that properly collected evidence would carry more weight than allegations that jury members had been bribed.

Three people suspected of involvement in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 were unanimously acquitted by the jury last Thursday.

Novaya Gazeta reporter Politkovskaya, who gained international recognition for her reports of atrocities against civilians in the troubled Caucasus republic of Chechnya, was gunned down in an elevator in her Moscow apartment building in October 2006, in what police described as a contract killing.

Russia's top investigator said on Wednesday the acquitted Makhmudov brothers from Chechnya were involved in her death, but the prosecution had failed to convince the jurors of this.

"The main evidence on the involvement of the Makhmudov brothers was gathered in August 2007. Further evidence only proved to a greater degree the involvement of these persons in the murder of Politkovskaya. We still have no doubt about this. It is another thing that we failed to convince the jurors of this," Alexander Bastrykin said.

Judge Yevgeny Zubov ruled last week that the case be referred back to the Investigation Committee at the Prosecutor General's Office and said that the verdict could be appealed within a 10-day period.

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