*EUR408   08/04/94


(Moscow SWAT team on first-ever U.S. visit) (610)

By Jim Shevis

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- The head of an elite Moscow police team, nearing the end of a

three-week visit with U.S. law enforcement agencies, says international

cooperation is needed to halt the global spread of organized crime.

"Organized crime knows no borders," Colonel Vladimir M. Ponomarenko told an

August 4 news conference at the Russian embassy.

"Criminals plan and commit crimes in foreign countries, including the United

States, and therefore cooperation with law-enforcement groups in other

countries is valuable," Ponomarenko said through an interpreter.

Ponomarenko, the deputy chief of the Moscow Regional Organized

Crime-Fighting Department, a unit within the Russian Ministry of Internal

Affairs (MVD), added: "It would be irresponsible to underestimate the

proliferation of organized criminal activity by Russians on the territories

of both the former Soviet Union and the United States."


Ponomarenko led the four-man delegation -- members of a special-forces SWAT

(Special Weapons and Tactics) team -- on its visit with police forces in

San Francisco and Las Vegas, Nevada, and with federal law enforcement

agencies in Washington, D.C.

During their U.S. visit, the Russians shared organized crime information

with their American counterparts and took part in a series of

specialized-weapons team training exercises and demonstrations.

"We have shared case-specific information about organized crime activities

involving Russians and Americans in Russia and the United States as well as

in a variety of other countries," Ponomarenko said.

The Moscow SWAT team represents Russia's top specialists in hostage rescue,

dignitary protective services, organized crime-fighting, government and

police force corruption, drug interdiction, and witness protection.

Its members exchanged intelligence about murder for hire, illegal arms

trading, counterfeiting, credit card and other financial fraud in meetings

with their counterparts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret

Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, U.S. Marshal's Service,

Drug Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Justice.

The first of its kind, the exchange flowed from last month's meeting in

Moscow between FBI Director Louis Freeh and Russian Interior Minister

Viktor F. Yerin.

Following the meeting, Freeh and Yerin issued a joint statement stressing

the need to share information about criminal activities and the "desire to

develop technical cooperation between the MVD and U.S. law-enforcement


At the time, Freeh and Yerin expressed deep concern that international

organized crime constitutes a major threat to both their countries.

"Two or three years ago, it would have been impossible to imagine such close

cooperation," Ponomarenko said.  "Times are changing."

"The trip was mutually beneficial for our delegation and for our American

colleagues.  We think along the same lines -- we both want to do a good job

in fighting crime, and providing peace and stability in our streets so

people can have a normal life and do business.

"I think our cooperation in the future will be more effective because we

were able to meet each other, and look in each other's eyes," Ponomarenko


In a question period after the briefing, Ponomarenko was asked about

Russia's rising crime rate -- an issue that is a major topic of political

and social concern in the federation today.

"It's true that the crime rate is growing compared to the previous period,"

he said, "but the crime is primarily directed toward businessmen who are

conducting illicit business."

Other members of the Moscow delegation were Lieutenant Colonel Gennady I.

Zhuritsky, SWAT team leader; Captain Eduard V. Bodantsev, and Lieutenant

Alexander N. Zhastavny.