The Changing Nature of Murder in Russia

Valeriy V. Chervyakov, Transnational Family Research Institute
Vladimir M. Shkolnikov, Max-Planck-Institute
William Alex Pridemore, University of Oklahoma
Martin McKee, European Centre on Hlth Soc. in Trans.

The homicide victimization rate in Russia doubled during the early 1990s and is now among the highest in the world. Beyond the rapid rate increase, the characteristics of homicide events and offenders are also changing. This paper describes the changing nature of homicide during the 1990s in Russia as a whole and, in more detail, in the Russian region of Udmurtia. The study employs data from three sources: Annual mortality data (1970-1999) and data on criminal investigations and convictions (1990 and 1997) in all of Russia, and an in-depth study of homicide trial records in the Udmurt Republic (1989-91 and 1998). Results reveal that murder in Russia changed considerably during the 1990s. For example, a higher percentage of homicides now involve aggravating circumstances, such as murder (1) in association with another felony, (2) to conceal another crime, or (3) by a group of people. The characteristics of convicted murderers also appear to be changing. At the end of the 1990s, offenders were younger, less likely to have previous convictions, and had a more diverse range of educational attainment than at the beginning of the decade. Finally, the rural-urban gap, with higher levels in rural areas, has also narrowed.

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Updated 05/20/2006