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    Corruption in Russia increasing

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    MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - Corruption among Russian officials is growing, according to the Interior Ministry.

    "In the first six months of this year, more than 31,000 corruption cases among officials were exposed," Gen. Nikolai Ovchinnikov, the head of the organized crime and terrorism department, told a briefing.

    He said about 500 officials were detained in the same period. As an example, Ovchinnikov cited a group that was operating in the coal-mining sector. A member of the group was detained for trying to bribe an official of the forestry agency with $270,000.

    Ovchinnikov said corruption was growing in the fuel and energy sector and 14,000 crimes had been registered in the country.

    Ovchinnikov said his department was working hard to thwart the economic component of organized crime and had exposed 8,000 economic crimes in the first six months of 2005, during which the number of exposed money laundering cases quadrupled.

    Ovchinnikov also said his department had uncovered eight cases of people with criminal records trying to join the ranks of authoritative bodies, but declined to name the suspects.

    "I think it is a delicate subject, as involvement in a criminal group is a subjective matter and has to be proved," he said.

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