President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
Let me start with the main news. I want to inform you that I signed Federal Law On the Police Force today, and it will take effect since March 1, 2011. The long and hard work on drafting this law and the broad discussions that involved both the public and the professionals are over now, and the law is entering into force. This is a long-awaited event. I congratulate you all on this news, and I hope that you will measure up to the demands the new law sets.
As you know, the law defines the status, rights, and duties of the police force. It relieves the police force, at least partially, I hope, of duties that duplicate other agencies’ responsibilities, and of tasks it should not really be doing. It also reinforces the partnership model of relations between the police and our society. This law was drafted on my initiative as part of the transformations taking place within the Interior Ministry, and was passed after being put through discussion.
The Law On the Police Force is just the first step in the Interior Ministry’s reorganisation, as is clear to everyone here. Laws are very important of course, and the operation of all state agencies is based on them, but it is equally important to improve their performance.
I will soon sign a number of executive orders connected with the law’s implementation. They include the orders approving the provisions on the Interior Ministry, its central organisation and regional offices. These orders will specify the composition and operating procedures of the Interior Ministry personnel certification committees and the maximum numbers of Interior Ministry officers, including the central office’s staff.
Another order approves the list of positions and special ranks for the senior officials of the Interior Ministry, the Federal Migration Service, the Bureau for Coordinating the Fight against Organised Crime, and several other organisations. These decisions are of a rather secondary nature, but they play a part too in ensuring the effective climate we need, the right environment for the police to do its job efficiently.
I want to highlight several important points related to the new law. They are the following:
First is unquestionably the need to fight terrorism which is probably our biggest challenge. Unfortunately, it has historic roots and objective causes. The terrorist attack at Domodedovo Airport revealed the completely unacceptable lack of professionalism in maintaining security measures at various facilities. This has prompted decisions taken by myself and the Minister of the Interior. The new law gives the police substantially expanded powers in ensuring security in public places, and assessing anti-terrorist protection and safety of infrastructure sites. I hope that the police will put these powers to use with maximum effectiveness.
Second is the need for firm action to prevent extremism and attempts to incite interethnic and interfaith hostility. These things are very dangerous for our country.
We are all citizens of a large, multiethnic nation, and here at this table too, as everywhere, of course, we have people of different ethnic backgrounds. You have the necessary laws and possibilities for coordinating your efforts with other agencies and services in this area. We cannot give extremists even the slightest opportunity to destabilise the situation in the country, especially during events of major public importance.
”The Law On the Police Force is just the first step in the Interior Ministry’s reorganisation, as is clear to everyone here. Laws are very important of course, and the operation of all state agencies is based on them, but it is equally important to improve their performance.“
Third is the suppression of organized crime. This work must produce much better results. Criminal groups in a number of regions have grafted themselves so tightly to business entities and local authorities that it is impossible in some cases to see where organized crime groups end and business communities or state agencies begin. The Interior Ministry must jointly with the other law enforcement agencies address and prevent these problems.
I remind you that, in response to requests by a number of regional governors, I signed a special order establishing permanent coordination meetings under the regional governors. The reason for this step was to give the governors the possibility where necessary of contacting directly the heads of the regional departments of the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service, and other law enforcement agencies. At the same time, the heads of the local law enforcement and security agencies can be assured this way that their own appeals will not simply get bogged down somewhere in all the bureaucratic routine. If they see that bandits and government organisations in this or that location have established solid ties between themselves, the governor is obliged in such cases to step in and decide what action to take, because it is not only the police, FSB, and the prosecutor’s office that are responsible for fighting crime, but also the regional governors.
Fourth is to the need to tackle corruption, which remains a direct threat to the country and public interest. People are outraged at the endless money they are still having to hand over on the motor roads, during inspections and audits, and when soliciting all manner of permits and certificates. I receive a huge number of complaints every day on these issues, an enormous number. Almost every second letter I get via electronic channels deals with these kinds of violations. It is all the more dangerous too when people in the law enforcement, supervisory and other government agencies are involved in these kinds of corruption mechanisms. These sorts of connections are used to stifle competitors and often to seize others’ business. It is the police force’s direct duty to identify those who are putting official powers up for sale. This is corruption too. You need to eliminate these corrupt schemes and bring to light attempts to embezzle state funds, working together with other government agencies, of course.
You must pay particular attention to the way investment in big construction projects is being spent, namely, the 2012 APEC summit, the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and now the 2018 Football World Cup as well. These are all big and complex projects, and all of them place a large number of responsibilities on the police.
Fifth is the need for more active development of an integrated information and telecommunications system and the Safe City system, making greater use of navigation and monitoring systems. We just saw how the police are using this system in Moscow’s Northern Administrative District, and I must say that it looks impressive. This is not some screen put on display for the sake of the bosses’ visit, to show that the Interior Ministry personnel know how to use computers, but is a real system that works in practice. You can see vehicles’ location and how tasks are being assigned. The system helps to optimise police cars’ movements and, most important of all, enables the police to react swiftly to the signals coming in, and send cars quicker to where they are needed.
I think the work on improving this system should continue. It is in operation in some other cities too. I have seen something of its work in other places, but it is already more advanced in Moscow, of course. This is a real functioning system, and I hope that, together with video surveillance, it will provide good evidence for criminal and administrative cases and for future disciplinary hearings.
The final point I wanted to make is that this is a big law, and its volume adds to its complexity. It describes in great detail all of the different police powers. I was asked a lot of questions in this respect. People asked, “Is this an increase in police powers, or is it something else?” It is exactly what is required, a detailed series of provisions defining the rights, powers, and duties of the police, and this is just what we need to ensure the police force’s effective and proper operation, while at the same time setting the limits on police powers, so as to avoid the temptation to misuse them.
I think the law is therefore useful, but at the same time, like all laws, it is not ideal, and we have to realise this right from the start. I am sure that as we put the law into practice we will see various proposals and ideas that could be used. Various NGOs have already made proposals on improving the current version. But I want this law to be implemented first, so that we can see what works well in it, and also any oversights, which are inevitable too, and when we find them, we will fix them.
”The terrorist attack at Domodedovo Airport revealed the completely unacceptable lack of professionalism in maintaining security measures at various facilities. This has prompted decisions taken by myself and the Minister of the Interior. The new law gives the police substantially expanded powers in ensuring security in public places, and assessing anti-terrorist protection and safety of infrastructure sites. I hope that the police will put these powers to use with maximum effectiveness.“
Another very important matter related to the law’s enforcement is that the screening process that the law introduces for police officers should result in the best people, the best professionals, joining the new force. Since the entry of the new law into force will be followed by such a certification process, with the best officers joining the new police force, while those who fail to meet the standards not being permitted to serve in the new force, we need to give our new police officers the right kind of better social benefits too. Our police officers must receive a full and broad social benefit package that will guarantee them decent living standards and settle their housing, education, and healthcare issues.
And finally, there is the matter too of raising service pay, which I discussed at a recent meeting with the Government. This concerns Interior Ministry personnel too, including police officers.
Draft laws regulating service in the Interior Ministry and social protection provisions for ministry staff should be submitted to the State Duma for examination soon. I instruct the Government to complete this work together with the Presidential Executive Office and report to me on the results.
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I will just add a little more before we move on to an exchange of opinions. This truly is a special day, because whatever happens, the introduction of this new law – particularly one as fundamental as the overall Federal Law On the Police Force – will bring about major changes for the system itself, and it is imperative to prepare for these changes. That is precisely why I will issue a whole set of instructions based on the results of today’s meeting. I have already mentioned some of them, but I want to note this fact again.
I am instructing the Government and the Presidential Executive Office to introduce a draft federal law on service in the police, which is to be submitted as a legislative initiative by the President of the Russian Federation to the State Duma. This is a law inextricably tied to the law On the Police Force.
Second, as the Minister and I both just said, it is imperative to refine and present a draft federal law stipulating social guarantees to law enforcement staff, and to submit it to the State Duma as the President of Russia’s legislative initiative.
”It is the police force’s direct duty to identify those who are putting official powers up for sale. This is corruption too. You need to eliminate these corrupt schemes and bring to light attempts to embezzle state funds, working together with other government agencies, of course.“
The Government should develop and adopt all the necessary regulations pertaining to the adoption of the Federal Law On the Police Force. They have several months to do so. This should be done as thoroughly as possible, and should include legislative amendments stipulating the transfer of certain functions that under the new law no longer fall under police jurisdiction, to other agencies and organisations.
It is very important to focus on using the media, the internet, and other means of communication to explain the main provisions of the law On the Police Force to the public, because when a new law comes into force, there can be misunderstandings and sometimes even phantom fears, particularly concerning the rights and responsibilities of police officers.
The Ministry of the Interior must develop new criteria for assessing performance of its officers, including the police. The criteria must stipulate the quality of law enforcement and its influence on the overall situation in the country. At the same time, it is imperative to return to the issue we just discussed. I gave instructions to the Presidential Executive Office and jointly with the Interior Ministry it should decide which particular body will ultimately be responsible for registering offences. The Prosecutor General and I have also discussed this, so, Mr Chaika, I would like you to participate in this work as well.
The federal constituent entities will have their share of steps to be made. We are currently in Moscow and the Mayor of Moscow is present. Naturally, a great deal will depend on cooperation between governors and the corresponding police forces and Interior Ministry units.
And another topic. At first glance, it may seem less significant, but it is nevertheless relevant. I just heard a report from the head of the Department of the Interior. A significant proportion of the crimes in Moscow – and therefore, in other parts of our nation as well – is committed by non-residents. This includes both citizens of the Russian Federation from other areas of the country and foreigners – this is particularly relevant for certain categories of crimes such as theft, robbery, violent robbery, and other violent crimes.
What is my point? We often increase the penalties for a given crime. It’s easy to do, but the preventive influence of these amplified sanctions is not that great, although it does have some effect. Still, we need to consider and make definitive decisions on the suggestions concerning penalties for breaking migration laws and registration rules. As far as registration rules are concerned, our situation is different from what it was, say, in the USSR; we no longer have residence permits. Our citizens can and should freely move around the country, but at the same time, freedom of movement does not mean it is acceptable to break existing rules. Thus, the rules of administrative registration must be more effective and clear, and if they are breached, there must be penalties. And those penalties should not just be administrative, such as a small fine which is not of much concern to anybody in such a situation. Indeed, it may be worthwhile to look into criminal prosecution for repeat offenders. In any case, this is one method for monitoring the movement of individuals who do not wish to respect our legislation.
I would like this matter to be tackled by members of the Presidential Council, which works on the development of law enforcement activities, together with other relevant departments: the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Ministry of the Interior, and our social activists who are also addressing these issues, as well as representatives of public and legislative bodies.