Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
Today we are to review the results of the work of the Ministry during the past year and discuss its immediate tasks.
Undoubtedly it has been a difficult year for the country and for the Interior Ministry bodies. In the light of renewed procedural requirements you restructured your investigation work. You had to master a new and distinct area of work that is very important today – migration.
I would like to recognize the work of Interior Ministry troops, notably the Ministry’s special units. Above all it is connected with the fight against terror and strengthening of the power bodies in the Chechen Republic. We are aware that you have done a large amount of work together with the Republic’s leadership to form the Interior Ministry of Chechnya. Several thousand Chechens who have become convinced that the peace process is irreversible and assumed their share of responsibility for the situation in the Republic, have joined the civil service. And, very importantly, they have joined the police service.
You may remember that a year and a half ago many said that we would not be able to find a single Chechen willing to cooperate with the federal authorities, not to speak of law enforcement bodies. Today hundreds of people work with us. And this is to your credit. I would like to thank you for this.
With all the above tasks solved, we have managed to bring down the level of crime to some extent. I believe this is one of the most important achievements. Let me say at once that some types of crime have registered an increase. Nor should we forget about the extent of hidden, or latent crime, or deliberate distortions of reports and refusal to open criminal cases. I remember that the Minister said a year ago that we would disclose all the figures, make everything open, and would not be afraid to see a growth of crime figures due to the disclosure of all the latent crimes. I don’t believe that this target has been fully met although there is movement in this direction, the right direction.
However, not only the quantitative but also qualitative aspects of your work are important. On it depends the public perception of the performance of the law enforcement bodies as a whole, including your Ministry. So far the public has given it poor marks, as witnessed by the complaints of citizens and the findings of opinion polls.
I believe the Minister has set the task correctly: we should not be concerned only about figures. Figures are of course important. But the main criterion is the trust of the people. It is important that every citizen of Russia be sure that if he comes to a policeman he will find protection, support and competent help.
The first and prime task of the Interior Ministry bodies is to protect the personal rights of citizens and social security. There has been some improvement compared with last year. But people still do not feel comfortable and safe in everyday life. Proof of this are the figures of crimes against property.
I would also like to note that the safety of citizens and society depends on effective fight against terror and extremism. Last year we faced repeated provocations and disturbances caused by extremist groups, and major terrorist acts not only in the capital but in other Russian regions as well.
In the fight against terrorism it is important to enlist public support. That is an area of activity that is extensively pursued in other countries, but is still largely a “black box” for us.
The next important task is precise definition and compliance with the laws in the migration sphere.
We cannot ignore the geographical spread of extremist groups. More and more often they provoke ethnic and religious conflicts. In fact, they take advantage of the problems of uncontrolled migration and of the plight of the migrants.
It is necessary to promptly complete the formation of regional units of the migration service and provide them with equipment. Active work is needed with the local authorities to replace passports. I would like to draw your attention to this. Some regions are very slow in issuing passports.
Another serious problem is the threat of narcotics. I will not speak about our administrative actions in this sphere, but the fact is that the situation is not improving. While we understand the complexities of the organisational period and the recruitment of new staff, the lack of results is alarming.
Let me repeat: what is needed is focused work to liquidate the economic infrastructure of drug trafficking and its transport corridors. Simultaneously effective prevention and rehabilitation of drug addicts is needed. Needless to say, not everything is within the powers of the police. But we are now talking about what you should do. On the whole we must give serious thought to improving our work in combating drug addiction.
Finally, attention must be given to the need to effectively protect the economic interests of citizens and enterprises. That task hinges on the creation of a favourable business environment in the country.
That is a multi-pronged task. It involves protecting business against criminals and arbitrary bureaucratic rule. It involves guarantees of state and private property. Most importantly, it is about strict compliance with the law by all the economic agents. That is why involvement of Interior Ministry personnel in corporate wars and economic disputes is particularly dangerous. I urge you to keep away from that.