President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Prosecutor General, colleagues,
Earlier this year, we celebrated 300 years of the Russian Prosecution Service, once again emphasising its significant role in the history of the Fatherland, the development of our society and the building of the foundations of a rule-of-law state.
During the annual expanded meeting of the Prosecutor General’s Office Board today, we will sum up the results of your work in 2021, considering the current situation, and will discuss objectives for the short and long term.
I should note that over this latest period, the prosecution bodies have maintained positive momentum with respect to a whole range of key performance indicators. Prompt intervention by prosecutors helped to protect the social rights of over 1 million citizens, including paying almost 20.5 billion rubles in wage arrears.
Prosecutors of different ranks receive members of the public, showing a higher effectiveness rate. The number of appointments increased by more than 11 percent last year, exceeding 1 million people. Statistics show that the majority of issues reported by people were resolved. The Prosecutor General personally took charge of the most critical cases.
Here is what I would like to say in this connection. There are a number of appeals filed by our citizens concerning the issues they raise regularly but which often take years to resolve – this is what we must focus our attention on. I would like to say that prosecutors’ efforts on a specific issue are not always effective for objective reasons or because of [the lack of] funding or because of the regional and local authorities’ policies. Nevertheless, members of the prosecution service must work together with regional and municipal teams, involving the federal authorities to deal with the essential aspects of the problems each particular person is facing. I ask you not to take a formal attitude to these matters, limiting your work to reporting on the prosecutor’s response measures taken, but to really work towards the settlement of problems at the given level.
Next, it is largely thanks to your contribution that the number of unjustified inspections of businesses has decreased. You have cut short the propaganda of extremism in the information space and the illegal activities of some NGOs.
The prosecution agencies must continue improving their performance in the key areas, giving more attention to the protection of legitimate civil rights and freedoms, including social and labour rights.
Of course, I simply must mention the unprecedented sanctions pressure the Western countries have put on Russia over recent years. As all of us are aware, this pressure increased after we launched the special military operation to support the Donbass people’s republics.
The Government and our regions are taking large-scale measures to support the citizens of Russia, and we must ensure the uninterrupted operation of these social protection mechanisms at all levels. I am referring, in part, to the timely transfer of pensions, payments and benefits to low-income and large families, and the enhancement of employment assistance programmes.
In this connection, I would like to ask prosecutors, acting within the framework of their authority, to develop a special system to oversee compliance with laws during the implementation of support measures for people and all the key, socially-oriented programmes.
The state is also there to support the key manufacturing sectors, which employ millions of people in our country. The Russian economy has everything it takes to operate in a stable and uninterrupted manner in this new reality.
At the same time, it is the freedom of entrepreneurship and flexible business mechanisms that ensure that the market gets the goods it needs, help mitigate deficits and smooth out price surges. I would like to urge you to make sure that all the rights of entrepreneurs are complied with and to create a business-friendly environment for them.
However, if someone abuses their monopoly or engages in behind-the-scenes price-fixing, both the anti-trust watchdogs and the prosecutor’s office must respond in a timely and concise manner.
Russian businesses have been acting with a lot of dignity these days. Many small and medium-sized companies have yet to recover from the pandemic, but they are now facing new barriers related to the aggression against Russia, which took on the form of sanctions. In fact, aggression through sanctions – this the only way I can define what it is going on. In this situation, we need to do everything to support Russian businesses and use all the available means to this effect, including by reducing the administrative burden.
Of course, there are spheres that require inspections, especially on matters affecting people’s lives and health. In all other situations, we decided to declare a moratorium.
We need to let Russian businesses and those of the foreign companies who continue, against all odds, performing their obligations in good faith, work in peace. We need to shield businesses from excessive, unjustified and unnecessary controls. We have all the instruments we need to do this.
Of course, we must be firm in curbing any impairment of rights of businesses receiving state support or preferences. The system to support entrepreneurs must operate in all clarity and create a business-friendly environment.
I would like to specifically discuss the tasks facing the prosecution agencies and the entire law enforcement sphere in connection with the special military operation in Donbass and Ukraine.
The special operation has exposed multiple violations of international law by Ukrainian neo-Nazi groups as well as foreign mercenaries. We are referring to extreme atrocities such as killing civilians, using people, including children, as human shields, and other crimes. Flagrant provocations against our Armed Forces, also with the use of resources such as foreign media and social networks, also require a thorough investigation.
At the same time, it is also necessary to suppress any crimes on the territory of the Russian Federation in the most decisive manner. This morning, the Federal Security Service thwarted a terrorist group that planned to attack and assassinate a well-known Russian television journalist. They will definitely deny this now, but the facts and evidence are irrefutable.
In this regard, I would like to say the following. To our surprise, high-ranking diplomats in Europe and the United States are urging their Ukrainian satellites to use their resources to win on the battlefield. Our partners in the United States are using such strange diplomacy – diplomats are even calling for this. But as they realise that this is impossible, they try to achieve a different objective instead – to split Russian society, to destroy Russia from within. But here, too, there is a hitch; this hasn’t worked either. Our society has shown maturity and solidarity; it supports our Armed Forces and supports our efforts to ensure Russia’s ultimate security and help the people living of Donbass. This actually means support for our people living in Donbass. So when they failed to achieve their information goals – they continued to fool their citizens of course, using their monopoly position in their countries’ information space and in some other countries, but they failed here, on the territory of Russia – they switched to terror, to arranging the murder of our journalists.
In this regard, it should be noted of course that we know the names of all the Western handlers, of all members of Western services, primarily the CIA, who are working with Ukrainian security agencies. Apparently, they are giving them such advice. This is their attitude towards the rights of journalists, towards the dissemination of information; this is their attitude towards human rights in general. All they care about is their own rights, some cherishing imperial ambitions, others holding on to their colonial past in the old-fashioned way. But this will not work in Russia.
I am asking the Investigative Committee of Russia, and all investigative bodies to record such crimes in detail, to identify their masterminds and perpetrators, to initiate criminal cases and bring them to trial, as they should. Prosecutors and investigators should carefully study these and all other facts, collect the necessary evidence to make a case, which should be used in court proceedings, including at the international level. Let me emphasise that such evidence should be accumulated for all the crimes committed by neo-Nazis and their accomplices, starting with the coup d'état in Kiev in 2014, which paved the way for civil war, bloodshed and violence in Ukraine.
Next point. We should pay special attention to people arriving to Russia from Ukraine, from the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. As of today, they number nearly one million, including over 100,000 children. People who had to leave their homes are not always in possession of the documents needed to get material aid, medical support, and to enrol children in schools or kindergartens. I urge the Prosecutor General’s Office to render these people legal assistance and protect their rights, including by reviewing their applications within the shortest possible timeframes. It is hard for these people, help them.
As before, coordinating the law enforcement agencies in the fight against crime remains among the absolute and most important tasks facing the prosecution service. Yes, the fact that an almost 100-percent solve rate has been achieved with regard to the gravest crimes can be described as a good result.
But the statistics are not so good as far as the solve rate for thefts and fraud is concerned. I discussed this in detail at the Interior Ministry’s board meeting in February. I would like you to offer proposals on how to change the situation and improve the solve rate for these crimes.
The prosecutors should also be more proactive in fighting extremism. It is important to consolidate the positive results achieved in this area and put a firm stop to any actions directed at interfering in Russia’s internal affairs from the outside, destabilising our society, and fomenting xenophobia, militant nationalism and interfaith enmity. And, of course, it is necessary to respond without delay to any instances of spreading on the internet radical ideologies and false information that provoke violations of law and order or preparations for illegal actions. They are often organised from abroad, and this is done in different ways, with either information or money coming in from those parts.
As before, protecting the rights of minors is among the priorities of the prosecution agencies. It is necessary to follow more closely and impose more severe punishments for crimes committed against children and adolescents, as well as to take additional measures to radically reduce the number of offences in this area, including pre-emptive and preventive measures.
Next, we should focus on checking how the federal budget funds are spent, primarily funds allocated for federal and national projects, as part of our fight against corruption. But, of course, we should not forget about the municipal level and the regional level, and also keep an eye on the funds spent to fulfil the state defence order and develop the defence industry.
You should pay close attention to some other important areas, including skilled support for government cases in court, environmental protection and management, and oversight of compliance with the rights of inmates of detention facilities.
I am confident that the prosecutors are well aware of the scope and importance of the tasks facing their agency and will do all they can for their effective implementation.
Colleagues, I want to thank the heads and the personnel of the prosecution service for their dedicated work.
I wish you new, significant achievements. Thank you very much.