(Forum 18) – Police in the traditionally Buddhist Russian republic of Tuva seem to be indifferent to violent attacks on Protestants. Pastor Aleksandr Degtyarev of Gospel Light Baptist Church , told Forum 18 News Service that “for them it is minor – they have too many murders to solve.” The republic’s crime rate is amongst the highest in Russia , with two-and-a-half times more murders than the national average. Physical attacks against religious believers are uncommon elsewhere in Russia , but there has in recent years been an apparent increase in cases of arson attacks on places of worship reported by Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Adventist, Jewish and Muslim communities. In some cases, police investigations have resulted in prosecution, but in others police either fail to investigate or refuse to acknowledge that arson has taken place. The director of the Moscow-based Baptist Association for Spiritual Renewal, Valentin Vasilizhenko, suggested to Forum 18 that arsonists might prefer to attack places of worship, because the repercussions against them would be far less serious than if they attacked a bank or a business.