The main subject of the meeting was the reform of the Ministry. The President announced the signing of an executive order and a number of bills to be submitted to the State Duma aimed at improving the Ministry’s effectiveness.
Among the proposed measures is increasing responsibility of the Interior Ministry’s officers. One of the bills provides for amendments to the Criminal Code, establishing stricter punishment for offences committed by active police officers, and introducing criminal liability for the officers who refuse to obey lawful and rightful orders of their superiors.
The President also noted that in the near future the senior officers of the police force will be rotated and new appointments to the top positions will be primarily made from among the candidates in the federal pool. Optimisation of the Interior Ministry will result in transfer of some of its functions, such as the administrative expulsion of illegal immigrants from Russia, vehicles checkup, etc. to other agencies.
The Board discussed combating corruption, including in the police force. The President requested a reliable set of measures preventing corruption in agencies within Russia’s Interior Ministry to be elaborated. In particular, starting this year the police are obliged to file declarations on their properties and those of their family members.
Dmitry Medvedev outlined the priorities of the Ministry in 2010. They include the launch of programmes to prevent delinquencies by minors, the fight against economic crime and the overall suppression of crime in the North Caucasus.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear comrades,
At Interior Ministry Board meetings, as well as at other board meetings, we not only take stock of the past but also identify our future goals. Today, speaking at your board meeting, I would like to focus on the development strategy of the Interior Ministry.
I do not need to remind you that the Interior Ministry is one of the most important elements within our judicial system. You are responsible for ensuring law and order in our country and protecting the rights and freedoms of our citizens. And the quality of the Ministry’s work affects not only the stability of our society, but also the economic and social development of our country.
You will recall that at the last such meeting we talked about the crisis that had begun to spread in our country and around the globe, and we voiced concerns that the crisis’s negative impact could result in a major increase in crime. However in general the measures taken, the anti-crisis measures, helped stabilise the situation in the social and economic spheres. The worst predictions failed to verify. Not only did the anti-crisis measures play a positive role, but the activities of the authorities did as well, including the work of the Ministry.
I would like to thank the Ministry’s staff for the conscientiousness with which they carried out their duties and thank the Ministry’s troops for their highly successful counter-terrorist operations.
However, as you all well know, our citizens, our society is particularly concerned about the activities of the Interior Ministry and is demanding effective action and exemplary professionalism from all of you. In addition, a number of incidents involving the Interior Ministry officers have attracted considerable public interest and – it has to be admitted – have affected the Ministry’s credibility and that of its staff.
On December 24, 2009 I signed an executive order on measures to reform the Interior Ministry. In effect this marks the beginning of a serious reform within the Ministry. First and most important are steps to optimise the Ministry’s structure and staffing. Within two years, by January 1, 2012, the number of its employees should be reduced by 20 percent. In addition, from 2012 all public security police funding will come exclusively from the federal budget. We have discussed this for a long time, now it's time to do it. I have instructed the Government Cabinet to draft specific proposals by March 31 of this year.
However, we understand the need to further streamline the functions of the Ministry and to improve its structure. Today I have decided to reduce the staff of the central Interior Ministry office from 19,970 to 10,000.
We will be working on the Ministry’s functions as well. We need to bring them into conformity with today’s requirements, with the tasks facing the Ministry and the duties it is capable of performing. This means that in the future the Ministry will not be involved in the administrative expulsion of foreign nationals and stateless persons from Russia, as well as the technical inspection of vehicles. These functions will pass over to other agencies. Sobering-up rooms at police stations will be placed under control 0of health authorities – this has been in the planning for a long time now. We will be making other decisions to optimize the functions of the Ministry.
Furthermore, we should work to increase the responsibility of law enforcement officers. In particular, I suggested that the commission of crimes by active Interior police officers should be punished more strictly. I also suggested that officers be held criminally responsible for failing to obey a legitimate and duly given order, in the same way that the Ministry of Defence and the Federal Security Service operate. Violations of discipline must be fought — and fought firmly. Anyone who fails to comply with a lawfully issued order is a criminal. Today I submitted the relevant bills to the State Duma and signed a presidential executive order on this topic. Also today I will be making a whole range of personnel-related decisions. And this is only the beginning. Further actions will follow.
Together these measures should relieve the Ministry of tasks that are irrelevant to its mandate and just as importantly significantly increase its employees’ salaries. In the long term we will need to pass a new law on police, the one that will define its main tasks and objectives: fighting crime and ensuring public order.
At the same time we will be working to improve general legislation on law enforcement and the judicial service.
As far as other steps to be taken are concerned, within a month the Interior Minister must provide me with a detailed plan for improving the Ministry, including a system of anti-corruption measures and a new law enforcement officer selection procedure, which will take into account the candidates’ moral and psychological qualities.
As per my instruction we are now implementing comprehensive measures to improve the work of personnel in executive positions in the police force. In the near future the necessary rotation will occur. The senior personnel positions will be staffed mainly from the federal pool, and the selection for and promotion to such positions will be made from high-value police officers who are ready to defend the law and the rights of our citizens.
I would like to set out a number of priorities for the Interior Ministry. These issues are not new, but they are nonetheless relevant.
The first is crime solving rate. Despite the measures taken, year after year half of all crimes, more than 1,300,000, remain unsolved, and a quarter of them are either serious or very serious crimes. More than 2,000 murders and attempted murders go unsolved, as do 760,000 thefts and more than 124,000 robberies. These are frightening figures in and of themselves. But most importantly they affect the lives of real people: the victims and those close to them, their relatives. I would like to emphasise that of course solving crimes remains one of the fundamental aspects of your work. Any attempt to massage these figures or to manipulate them in some way is of course unacceptable. Measures to combat crime should be carried out on a large scale, and the work of the Interior Ministry should be significantly reconfigured in this regard.
The second challenge is the fight against extremism, the elimination of the criminal underground in the North Caucasus. Our work to reduce the total number of crimes and offences should add to further stabilize the situation in the region, all the more so because such crimes are interrelated. This is a prerequisite for economic development in the Caucasus and improving people’s lives there.
There is another fundamental point: the situation in the North Caucasus region calls for our increased efforts to ensure the security of police officers themselves. This should be given special attention, drawing on our extensive experience and other countries’ experience in this field.
The third principal area of focus includes the fight against economic crime, against the pressure exerted on business by criminals and the illegal seizure of property. Only authorised Ministry staff is entitled to carry out inspections and audits of companies and individuals engaged in business activity, and such inspections and audits should take place only in the context of a crime or as part of a criminal case.
Anti-corruption work requires special attention. With the adoption of new anti-corruption legislation, law enforcement activity in this area has become more intense, but this is only the first stage of efforts to radically reduce corruption. Much more needs to be done to rid government and municipal structures of this evil. Only last year there were 43,000 crimes committed against the public service, the interests of public service and local government services. And about 15,000 of them involved corruption-related crimes. What’s more we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We need to introduce a reliable set of measures preventing corruption in the Interior Ministry’s agencies. As of this year the police are obliged to provide information about their property holdings and those of their family members. A commission to oversee the compliance with the code of conduct introduced for federal civil servants and to resolve conflicts of interest has begun working in the Ministry. So-called guarantees have been introduced. All these tools have to function fully, and not simply remain an ink on paper.
Finally, the Interior Ministry should actively promote the prevention of crime. A unified national system of crime prevention has been in place in Russia since 2007. We must analyse in detail what has been accomplished and what we have not been able to do, especially among young people. Last year, we registered about 100,000 juvenile and juvenile-involved crimes, with every third of them being serious or very serious. This is a very alarming figure. Prevention programmes should include not only measures to prevent juvenile delinquency but also measures that ensure juveniles’ rights and legitimate interests. The fact that the number of appeals and complaints concerning child rights has grown by almost 50 percent in this area shows how much work there is to be done. This too will be addressed separately.
I'm not going to prejudge the report of the Minister – it is very detailed.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that the government will continue to concern itself with improving the level of material and social security of police officers. Moreover, given the anti-corruption challenges I spoke about, this problem will also receive our full attention. Within a short period of time we shall have made the decisions necessary to increase salaries. The Government Cabinet is now discussing specific issues as outlined in my instruction. This is a very important area. As for our financial possibilities, let's hope our economy will enjoy better growth this year than it did last and we will resolve the housing problems of Ministry personnel. I expect that such measures will become one of the incentives to improve the efficiency of your work and that of your subordinates.
Finally, I will continue to oversee personally the reform of the Interior Ministry.
I wish the Board every success.