Meeting of Prosecutor General’s Office Board 2021-03-17 15:30:00 Moscow During an expanded meeting of the Board of Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office, Vladimir Putin reviewed the organisation’s performance in 2020 and outlined the tasks to strengthen law and order in 2021. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, Mr Krasnov. During this traditional annual expanded board meeting, we will discuss the prosecution authorities’ performance in 2020 and, as usual, outline immediate priorities for the future. First of all, I would like to say that the prosecution authorities, just like all other agencies of the law enforcement system, are faced with the crucial task of protecting law and order, and, moreover, they are authorised, by virtue of their position, to make a considerable, significant contribution to Russia’s development as a law-based and community-focused democratic state. During the past year, which was far from simple, you managed to improve a number of vital indicators. For example, prosecutors upheld the social rights of over a million citizens. Thanks to the measures taken, nearly 22 billion rubles of wage arrears have been paid out. Overall, a critical rise in non-payments and wage arrears has been avoided despite the complicated situation caused by the pandemic. Government support packages, economic assistance and regular supervision of compliance with labour legislation played their role in this, and, of course, we must continue to closely monitor the situation on the labour market. During the previous board meeting, I instructed you to redouble efforts to protect the most vulnerable groups of the population. I am asking you to continue monitoring this priority sphere. I would like to point out that in 2020 there was an increase in the number of violations exposed and, most importantly, remedied concerning the rights of disabled persons and pensioners. The statistics indicate that problems remain in this sphere. Your task is to ensure, together with other government agencies, the unconditional fulfilment of social guarantees, so that our senior citizens and people with disabilities can receive promptly and without any ordeals what is due to them, including social benefits, free medication and access to medical services and convalescent care facilities. And of course, matters such as support for large families, low-income families, orphans and single mothers should remain under close review. We must immediately respond to unlawful non-payment of benefits, compensations or other types of material support that people are entitled to. Among our unconditional priorities is the protection of the rights of minors. Violations are still frequent in this sphere, as you well know, so I am asking you to consider requests and petitions coming from large families, families with disabled children, and guardians of orphans as a matter of priority, to involve regional and municipal authorities in addressing these matters and of course, rely on public organisations. Security systems at educational institutions need to be improved. School meals and summer activities for children and adolescents require most serious attention, too. You know that in previous years, we encountered big problems and tragedies here. Checks and inspections need to be carried out regularly, and any violations exposed should not only be recorded, but completely eliminated. I ask you to keep an eye on this. As summer vacations and school holidays are coming up, we need to concentrate on this specifically. Evidence of instances of so-called domestic violence must not be ignored. In 2020, more than half of all crimes against minors, unfortunately – but it needs to be admitted – were committed by members of their families. I ask you to make full use of your powers and demand an appropriate response from the child protection authorities. I would also like to note the supervisory support of strategic national projects. The government allocates significant funds for these purposes, and that money should work for development, for the improvement of people’s quality of life. Any violations and abuses in this sphere must be curbed and severely punished. Special attention should also be paid to healthcare, which is an extremely important, key area. Here, prosecutors should not only supervise how the regional programmes already launched and the corresponding national projects are being implemented, but also carefully monitor the progress of many other issues. For example, they need to check whether the standards for the provision of medical care are met, whether free medicines, services, and means of rehabilitation are provided to entitled recipients on time, or whether the approved additional compensations and bonuses are actually paid to medical workers. Furthermore, numerous acute and sensitive issues remain in the sphere of housing and utilities, including unjustified price hikes. It goes without saying that the economy lives according to its own laws, and that it is very dangerous to tamper with these laws, but I am talking about unjustified hikes alone and failure to comply with service quality standards, attempts to unjustifiably redistribute infrastructure repairs funding. Here I am counting on the principled position of prosecutors, based on strict compliance with the law; this also concerns such aspects as the protection and reinstatement of the rights of those defrauded in participatory housing construction projects. Legislation has already been amended, and these amendments introduce additional guarantees and reduce the risks for people on the housing market. First, it is necessary to consistently deal with the debts that have accumulated over the years. Therefore, I am asking the heads of prosecutors’ offices in regions with such unfinished and problem projects to monitor this situation, and I am asking you to deal with this personally. We need to finally resolve this issue, at long last. Secondly, it is necessary to monitor law enforcement practice and to prevent new problems, so that unfair developers and outright crooks are unable to find any legal loopholes allowing them to deceive people. And, of course, prosecutors should continue to deal with nature management and environmental protection matters. This is one of the most topical issues today. This implies the adequate removal of household waste and its disposal, the preservation of forests and unique ecosystems, and valuable water and biological resources. Colleagues, The fight against crime remains a key task of prosecutors’ offices. You are responsible for coordinating all the law enforcement activities in the Russian Federation, and you should do everything necessary to reduce the level of the crime threat, to solve more crimes and demand better work on the part of investigative divisions and those conducting preliminary investigation. It is necessary to assess the legality of refusals to register crime reports, to expose the falsification of registration documents within the framework of prerogatives for keeping legal statistics, to voice a principled stand on red tape during the investigation of criminal cases and during pre-investigation checks. Support for state prosecution is an important aspect of your work. State prosecutors should display high levels of competence, and they should defend the interests of the state, society and citizens effectively. It is also necessary to improve the quality of work on defending the rights of entrepreneurs and in general to ensure the reliability of the entire national business framework. I am asking you to respond to all evidence of pressure and encroachment upon the rights of legal entities, especially small and medium-sized businesses, as well as with regard to self-employed citizens and individual entrepreneurs. As you have probably noted, we are now trying to support this sector and its employees. It is necessary to find out whether various inspections and checks regarding enterprises are justified or not. I will not dwell on this matter separately because prosecutors’ offices are working rather effectively here. Society expects you to be more active in countering extremism. Prosecutors at all levels must promptly respond to manifestations of nationalism and any attempts to destabilise the situation in the country. I have already mentioned at the board meetings of the FSB and the Ministry of the Interior that the next parliamentary elections are due this year, as you well know. It is also your direct responsibility to ensure compliance with the rule of law during the election campaign and the voting. The fight against corruption should be given serious attention, primarily in such areas as the placement and implementation of civilian and defence state orders, as well as the provision of public services, and the use of municipal and state property. It is of the essence to detect any discrepancy between municipal and civil servants’ spending and their incomes. Also on the agenda is improving the mechanisms for moving assets obtained by criminal means back from abroad. I would like to ask you to effectively use the capabilities of the interdepartmental working group recently established at the Prosecutor General’s Office to coordinate this work. In conclusion, I would like to bring up one more important topic. Last year, the Prosecutor General gave instructions to improve the consideration of appeals, submitted in writing or in person, and special attention here should be paid to the violation of the rights of socially unprotected categories. At the same time, it is essential to keep the process of dealing with people’s most important problems under review, and we agreed that the Prosecutor General would deal with this personally. This heightens the prosecutors’ responsibility for the quality of verifying people’s petitions, and simplifies the procedures for appealing against the prosecutors’ decisions at all levels. And this, of course, is important and significant. People need to feel they are in contact with the prosecution system and to understand that it is a level of state power where people can get protection of their interests. Once again, your work and your attitude to the matter influences people’s lives and their well-being, the rule of law in Russia and its progressive development. I would like to thank the management and employees of the prosecutor's offices for being principled and responsible about their duties, and for conscientiously serving the law. I am confident, comrades, that you will continue to fulfill your duties with dignity. I wish you every success and thank you all very much. <…> Vladimir Putin: Mr Krasnov, colleagues, I looked carefully again at the resolutions of the Board of the Prosecutor General’s Office. I am referring to the draft. Mr Krasnov, I would like to draw your and your colleagues’ attention to some points. I think the positive results of your work are reflected in the first part. Following the consistent efforts of the Prosecutor General’s Office, wage arrears have been settled. I spoke about this in my opening remarks, and Mr Krasnov said this as well. These payments amounted to 23.8 billion rubles but what matters most is that in 2020 the recorded arrears dropped from 2.1 billion to 1.6 billion rubles even though this was a very difficult year. Many companies suspended operations but debt was reduced nonetheless. This is generally a good figure, and I would like to thank you for this. Cartel collusion was identified in supplies of medications and so on. This is also a very important area. We need to closely follow this because eventually all cartel collusion leads to higher prices in the market, at the people’s expense. You worked in these areas and did absolutely the right things. I will simply read it: prosecutors have managed to achieve a reduction in overdue debt to businesses with public contracts. It is important to pay attention to this because if payments for the work done are delayed or unjustified or the work was not approved on time, problems eventually face the employees. This is the correct approach and it is necessary to monitor it going forward, too. We have already spoken about decrepit housing, environmental protection and military prosecutors. They have managed to protect the rights of over 84,000 military personnel to receive money and other allowances; the salary arrears of civilian personnel were settled, etc. These are very important areas, and I would like you to not let up on this. This is absolutely correct. Something drew my attention, and I want the Prosecutor General and his deputies, as well as everyone who is involved in this, to revisit what you have noted here. The decline in crime solving rates in 2020 is indicative of setbacks in the work of law enforcement agencies. The decline is small, but you need to carefully analyse the reasons behind it. There may be objective circumstances. We will not go into detail now, since you are professionals and you know what I am talking about. However, there may also be subjective reasons. There is a need for a thorough and in-depth analysis. I also noted the fact that criminal prosecution was terminated with regard to 180,400 defendants. It is imperative to make sure that the sentences passed during criminal court proceedings are objective and fair and fully comply with the law. Overcrowded detention centres represent a violation of security regulations. This, too, needs to be analysed region by region. They are listed here, but you need to take a closer look. Mr Krasnov, please submit a report covering these matters. Perhaps, the regions need help, or the system itself needs help, including the Interior Ministry and the prisoner detention system. Problems abound, but there are things that need our immediate attention, and they need to be taken care of accordingly. The first paragraph contains an aptly worded statement, which is “to more energetically implement the human rights potential of the prosecutor's office.” This must be followed in the broadest sense of the term. There is also the need to strive towards the timely updating of regional and municipal regulations in accordance with amendments to the Russian Federation Constitution and ensuing amendments to federal legislation. This is all very important, and many of you probably remember how prosecution authorities effectively operated in the early 2000s to bring the statutes and constitutions of the regions into harmony with the Constitution of the Russian Federation. In many regions, the laws said anything but mentioning that it was a constituent region of the Russian Federation. The involvement of the Prosecutor’s Office largely helped change the situation then, and bring the regulatory framework in the regions in line with the Constitution of Russia. Keeping in mind the recent amendments made to the Constitution, there is work that certainly needs to be done to incorporate those changes and bring each regional regulatory framework and the federal regulatory framework in line with the new amendments, you are absolutely right. There is one more point to make, a new, but essential one: additional measures need to be taken to curb the illegal cross-border movement of funds in digital financial assets. Criminals are increasingly using these digital financial assets, and this certainly needs to be looked into, with your colleagues from other departments, including the Financial Monitoring Service. But our prosecution authorities’ job is to monitor the observance of the rule of law in all spheres of the state, and almost all of that is mentioned here, so I do not need to repeat it. There is only one thing missing. This says nothing about addressing the prosecutors’ own social problems. Mr Krasnov, I hope that the administrators at the Prosecutor General's Office are working on this, it cannot be otherwise. Still, it would also be appropriate to reflect this in the Prosecutor General's Office Board resolution, as one of the objectives – to improve the prosecutors’ quality of life, social situation, and working conditions. I would like to thank you all for your work in 2020 and wish you all the best in 2021. Thank you.