Extended meeting of Russian Interior Ministry Board 2021-03-03 14:15:00 Moscow Vladimir Putin attended an annual extended meeting of the Russian Interior Ministry’s Board. The participants summed up the results of the internal affairs agencies’ operational performance in 2020 and charted specific guidelines for 2021. * * * President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kolokoltsev, comrades, I would like to greet you at the annual extended meeting of the Russian Interior Ministry’s Board. I know, and we have already discussed this matter with the Minister, that the event will now continue in a modern format. Incidentally, this sufficiently convenient format makes it possible to involve many people in various places. But such is the demand of the times. Nevertheless, we will, as usual, discuss the results of the past period, and we will determine the high-priority areas of our subsequent efforts. I would like to note right away that the internal affairs agencies successfully accomplished their tasks in 2020. Despite difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, they acted skillfully, efficiently, and smoothly. I am referring to efforts to maintain public safety, the fight against crime and systemic and purposeful work to improve the situation on the roads and that in the migration sphere. At the same time, Russian citizens are expecting greater efficiency from all government tiers, as well as all state agencies, including the law enforcement agencies. I hope that you will make full use of your operational and human resources and technological potential to attain new frontiers in boosting public safety and reliably protecting people’s rights, freedoms, and property. In particular, you will fight the criminal threat more resolutely and aggressively. During the period under review, there was an increase in the number of crimes solved, especially grave ones. The activities of some dangerous crime rings were thwarted. However, the trend is not as positive in other spheres, for example, in IT, which I have already mentioned and which we discussed with the minister just now. The number of IT crimes has increased more than 10 times over the past six years. Of course, information technologies are developing rapidly, and we, unfortunately, cannot keep pace with them. All of us definitely agree that the future belongs to e-commerce and the development of a global network of online services. The relevant technologies are upgraded and are changing by leaps and bounds, and, sadly, the sphere of operation for all kinds of criminals is expanding at the same time. Your job is to effectively combat this criminal challenge and to protect our citizens and honest business people who are learning to use the digital advantages. This includes promptly informing them about ways to protect themselves from cybercrime, as well as improving the professional skills and technical equipment of the Interior Ministry agencies. Of course, you must also improve your interaction with the banking community and internet and mobile providers. Overall, the number of solved cybercrimes and other crimes must increase every year. I would like to stress that what we need is not better statistics or reporting, but real improvements achieved through hard work on the ground. This is a fundamental condition for the implementation of the main legal principle – the inevitability of punishment, and hence people’s belief in justice, the law and the ability of the state to protect their safety. Of course, every case and every situation you come across, when you see that people need your assistance, must be subjected to a thorough, detailed and prompt legal analysis. At the same time, I can see that what was happening last year due to the pandemic has impeded the possibility of promptly investigating and solving crimes. And besides, the nature of criminal challenges is changing, as you have pointed out just now. Cutting-edge technologies have reached into all corners of our lives. In this connection, we must consider the possibility of adding new methods of collecting evidence to the criminal proceedings, including cases when the people involved cannot attend them in person. Furthermore, I would like to note the increased efficiency of crime prevention, and first of all – we are constantly talking about this – among young people. I repeat, there are certain positive trends here as well. At the same time, you need to join our colleagues from other departments to monitor the internet, to step up tracking down those who involve minors in illegal actions online. Incidentally, the fact that minors are being drawn into illegal unauthorised street rallies is actually a violation of the law, and under the law, we absolutely must respond to this. Unfortunately, we all know what the internet is and how it is used to promote completely unacceptable content such as child pornography, prostitution, and driving minors to suicide. But when they use whatever pretext or rhetoric to cold-bloodedly use children to achieve some selfish goals, we must never forget that these are our children, and we need to act in such a way as to avoid creating additional threats to their lives and health. Actually, you are doing just that, and I would like to thank you for this. And I ask you never to forget about it. The fact that every fourth crime committed by adolescents is a serious or especially grave crime is an alarming signal for absolutely everyone, for the whole society. Special attention should be paid to this. In this regard, let me remind you that on February 1, a law was enacted requiring the owners and providers of social media and other internet resources to identify and block content prohibited by law. Failure to comply with these requirements will be punished by serious fines. And here it is important to ensure effective law enforcement practice, clearly distinguishing between a free exchange of information and the dissemination of content destructive for society. The role of local police officers in preventive work is noticeably increasing. They should be in control of the situation on their territory, talk to the local residents more often, identify urgent conflict situations in a timely manner, and work more intensively with so-called risk groups. Moreover, since last year, the local police officers have been given additional powers, as you well know, to suppress all kinds of illegal behaviour. They need to use these new powers competently and, most importantly, in a timely manner. Otherwise, the lack of proper response from them, or neglect of their duties can lead to a tragedy. The fight against extremism should be given the most serious attention. Please resolutely stop any propaganda of nationalism, xenophobia, religious strife and violence and bring to account the instigators who escape and hide away, and when caught red-handed, show remorse, although they seduce people into illegal actions. In addition, I have already noted at the recent FSB Board meeting the importance of ensuring public order and people’s safety during the preparations for and holding of the upcoming State Duma elections. The constitutional right of the people of Russia to freely elect its representatives must be guaranteed and effectively protected. Comrades, I will highlight such a key area of the Interior Ministry’s activity as traffic safety. There are fewer road accidents, particularly in mass transit, largely thanks to the measures taken over the recent seven years. And, what is extremely important, the road traffic fatality rate is steadily decreasing: this figure went down practically by another five percent last year. Please go on doing all you can to have as few road accident casualties as possible. Concentrate your efforts on ensuring the safety of pedestrians, on the relentless fight against drunk driving and speeders. These three sore spots are the main factors of road traffic fatalities: 27 percent of the dead are pedestrians, almost the same number – 26.9 percent – died because of drunk drivers, and 23.2 percent because of crossing onto oncoming traffic. Conferring on the Interior Ministry the power of exercising state control over vehicle inspection starting this year is a new, serious resource for improving traffic safety. And, of course, you should keep under close control the most problematic sections of motorways, improve road markings, develop remote traffic control systems, and cooperate effectively with your colleagues in other federal departments and regions under the Safe and High-Quality Roads national project. Your priority tasks include further decriminalisation of the economy and anti-corruption measures. It is necessary to more actively reveal and curb embezzlement of budget funds, including allocations for countering the coronavirus, and illegal export of capital abroad. At the same time, I would like to ask you to seriously toughen procedural and departmental control over the justification and legality of the grounds for instituting and investigating business crime. There are still problems in this area. It is necessary to react promptly and strictly to such abuses and maintain permanent open contacts with the business community. In this context I would like to mention migration policy, a very sensitive issue for sectors of the economy and for society as a whole. I must say that the situation in this area has become better organised and more transparent and its legislative regulation is more effective now. At the same time, there are still risks in this area, such as the penetration of criminals into the migrant workers’ environment. I would like you to continue to take a balanced and responsible approach to the admission of foreign work force into our country, being guided by the real requirements of our national economy and giving priority to protecting the interests of our citizens in the labour market. All the activities of migrant workers must be conducted in strict accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation and universal international standards. Those who violate them – I am referring not only to the workers but also to their employers – must be punished appropriately. The efforts to counter drug trafficking must be raised to a new level. Indeed, in the past decade, the number of officially registered drug users has decreased by over a quarter, which is a good figure. The number of underage drug users has gone down by almost 45 percent. I would like to thank you for this result. However, these figures must not make us complacent. We must continue consistently eliminating the clandestine production of drugs and drug trafficking channels. Efforts must be redoubled to combat the online popularisation and trafficking of drugs, which I have already mentioned in passing, especially considering the additional powers granted to the police for this purpose in 2021. Of great assistance in these efforts will be the State Antidrug Policy Strategy until 2030, which was adopted late last year. I hope that comprehensive implementation of the events stipulated in that document will help us to reduce the level of the drug threat and hence to save the health and lives of thousands of people. Comrades, A great deal has been done during the past few years to improve the material and technical base of the Interior Ministry. When coordinating the federal budget for 2021–2023, we stipulated the allocation of an additional 21.3 billion rubles to the ministry, among other things, for increasing the wage fund of the ministry personnel in 2021. The state will continue working to create decent working conditions for people at the Interior Ministry agencies and to enhance the standards of legal and social protection of their personnel. In this connection, I would like to say that strict punishment will be meted out in accordance with the law to those who are trying to hinder, let alone aggressively hinder, the work of Interior Ministry agencies and the implementation of the personnel’s duties. Our legislation has always had legal norms on the protection of the Interior Ministry and other agencies’ personnel in the course of their duties. They have been reinforced recently. In addition, we are actively working on a draft law to protect law enforcement personnel and their near and dear ones from any threats, including in the social networks. The state will definitely fulfil its duty and will ensure the safety of those who are protecting the law, as well as the safety of their families. In conclusion, I would like to once again thank the Interior Ministry personnel for carrying out their duties. I have no doubt that you will continue to fulfil your tasks professionally. I would like to wish you every success in this. Thank you. <…> Vladimir Putin: Mr Kolokoltsev, colleagues, I have looked through the materials that were prepared for the board meeting. The number of crimes recorded is about the same as last year, it has hardly changed, so we will assume it has remained at the same level. We record a decrease in the number of crimes against the person, murders. What is especially gratifying, and I draw your attention to this, is that the number of crimes involving firearms and explosives has decreased. I ask you to continue to focus on this, together with the FSB and the National Guard, to closely monitor the circulation of firearms and explosives, to keep it under control. It is also important that the number of crimes committed under the influence of alcohol has decreased: down 4.3 percent in the North-West and down 3.9 percent in the Siberian District. I hope that this is, among other things, a result of our anti-alcohol campaign work as well as the entire range of measures applied by the state. Crimes committed under the influence of drugs are down three times from the 2012 level; their number continued to decrease over the previous year. Once again, drug-related crimes have decreased by two-thirds from 2012, and this is a direct result of your work, among other things, the result of your work. At the same time, we really have to note a rise in recorded crime in some constituent entities of Russia, in big cities, in large regions. I do not have to list them now because you certainly know about it, the Minister knows about it. I ask you, I earnestly ask you to pay more attention to this and find out why this is happening, identify the reasons, find them, and respond accordingly. I have mentioned a reduction in crimes committed under the influence of drugs, but still, one-fourth, or 25.2 percent of the total number of serious and especially grave offences involved drug trafficking. This suggests that work in this area is far from complete; there is still a lot to be done, and I ask you to pay attention to this. I mentioned in my opening remarks, and the Minister was just saying – as in the previous year, malicious activity with the use of telecommunication technologies has contributed to the rise in the number of especially grave and serious crimes. This trend is found in all federal districts, in all regions of the Russian Federation. Naturally, we must keep this in mind and react accordingly. I hope it will be so. Once again, I would like to thank you for your performance last year and wish you success. All the best. Thank you.