Crime has fallen in Ukraine since war began – interior minister
By Olena Harmash
KYIV (Reuters) – Crime rates have plunged in Ukraine since the Russian invasion, largely due to a police crackdown on criminal gangs in the early days of the war, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said.
Klymenko told Reuters that crime cases had dropped by up to 50% for some kinds of offences in the 13 months since Russia’s full-scale invasion, although police have also recorded tens of thousands of war crime allegations against Russian troops.
“The situation with crime is completely under control in our country today,” Klymenko said in an interview in the capital Kiev on Thursday, without saying which crimes had fallen most and how serious crimes such as murder were affected.
“This is due to the rather serious work that we carried out from the very first day of the war. We took all organised groups under our control on February 24 (2022). It made it possible to take complete control of the street and street crime in the first days of the war.”
He gave no further details of the measures taken.
As Russian forces headed towards Kyiv at the start of the war, the government urged Ukrainians to take up arms and distributed thousands of rifles and shotguns to civilian defence forces in the capital and other cities.
More than a year later, all these weapons are accounted for, as are other weapons that Ukrainians already had in their possession, Klymenko said.
But he said police were facing attempts by criminals to defraud people fleeing frontline areas who are particularly vulnerable as they are desperate to find new housing.
Klymenko said education campaigns had been launched to help protect such people and Ukraine is sharing information with other national police forces to help protect Ukrainians who have fled abroad.
War crime allegations
Klymenko, 50, took over as acting minister in January after his predecessor was killed in a helicopter crash, and was confirmed in the role the following month. Before that, he had been national police chief since September 2019.
Klymenko said police move into areas as they are recaptured from Russian forces – such as Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson in the south – to protect residents from criminals.
“We deal with criminals who still remain in de-occupied territories in Kharkiv region and Kherson region, where we want to help people feel as safe as possible after the Russian occupying forces were expelled from these areas,” he said.
Klymenko said law enforcement agencies were investigating alleged collaborators and aiming to “clear them out”. He said the number of collaborators in the Interior Ministry forces had been less than 1% of employees.
Police have also had a prominent role in registering alleged war crimes committed in areas occupied by Russian forces, and Ukraine has also launched a crackdown on corruption.
Klymenko said about 70,000 alleged war crimes had been documented by the national police so far but gave no details of the allegations. Russia denies its troops have committed atrocities.
(Reporting by Olena Harmash, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Angus MacSwan)