Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
This coordinating conference of the law enforcement agencies is to discuss the state of law and order. We agreed with the Prosecutor General on it long ago and I would like to thank him for organising this event.
I must say from the start that the analysis of the situation last year gives no grounds for optimism. Of course the overall number of registered crimes dropped by almost 15%, but being professionals you know that statistics by no means always give a full and accurate picture of real life. It leaves out latent crime and some other phenomena connected with the organisation of the work that cannot but worry us. According to experts, an estimated 40% of crimes go unregistered.
Analysing the law and order situation, we must bear in mind that the number of solved crimes has diminished. That means that many of them have not only been unsolved, we understand the implications, but that the criminals are still at large.
I know that many of you link the declining rate of solved crimes with the introduction of the revised Criminal Procedural Code. But the renewal of the legal framework has highlighted the problems and weaknesses in the organisation of investigation work. And of course we should learn to work in the context of a civilised criminal process. There is no way back.
All this has to be borne in mind if we want to know the real scale of crime in the country and take it into account in both the work of individual agencies and in coordinating our actions.
As you know, I signed a number of decrees yesterday regarding the organisational and personnel components of the country’s security-related agencies. The structural changes have been prompted, not least, by the need for better coordination of the work of the security agencies and eliminating overlap in their activities. The period of reorganisation will of course take some time. But it need not disrupt the work of the law enforcement agencies in any way.
In connection with this, I would like to identify the areas that demand particular attention today.
The key task is to reduce the number of crimes against individuals; mainly attempts on the life and threats to the health of citizens. Last year more than 1.8 million citizens became victims of such crimes. Serious and very serious crimes, including homicide, still dominate the criminal sphere. Street crime shows no sign of declining. Protection of property rights is in a poor state, especially the protection of private property.
All these alarming facts make “triumphant” reports irrelevant. The reasons for this situation must be thoroughly analysed.
Another priority is the fight against terrorism. Of course the largest number of terrorist attacks has been registered in the Southern Federal District, mainly in the Chechen Republic. However, the terrorists have left their footprints in some other regions of Russia. Currently, terrorism-related criminal cases have been opened in 16 Russian regions. The courts have already passed their verdicts on some of these cases.
I think I should mention the role of the prosecutors who monitor law and order in the regions, including the Chechen Republic. We have already spoken about it: the office coordinating these activities has taken the relevant decisions. I would like to stress again that not a single element of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya should be implemented without the involvement of the prosecutor. It would help reduce the number of human rights violations in the republic and foster confidence in the authorities.
The fight against drug trafficking remains a key task. Unfortunately, performance in this field leaves much to be desired. Despite upgrading of the status of the corresponding Government commission and some other measures, coordination between the agencies is still not sufficient and the results of their work are few and far between.
Statistics claim that the number of such crimes has dropped. But there are grounds for believing that in this case too the figures are far removed from real life. For example, not a single drug related crime has been uncovered in the Republics of Altai, Karelia, Kalmykia and Karachayevo-Circassia. We are aware of the true scale of the phenomenon and knowing that scale, it is hard to imagine that these republics have no problems connected with drug trafficking. It is impossible.
We all understand that the situation in this sphere requires urgent measures. So a decision was taken yesterday to create an independent federal body – a State Committee on Drug Control. Viktor Cherkesov who is present here, has been appointed the head of that agency. I would like to introduce him to all of you again. He is a well-known person; everybody knows that he has vast professional and political experience. I very much hope that under his leadership the new agency will become an effective instrument in the fight against drug trafficking. And I hope that all of us, the society and the country, will feel the difference.
I would also like to draw your attention to the legality of election campaigns. This year will see many elections, including elections of the heads of regions and State Duma deputies. The experience of past campaigns has shown that various offenses connected with elections tend to spike during such periods. It is the task of the law enforcement bodies to enable the citizens to make an impartial choice and to help organise truly democratic and fair elections. For the law enforcement bodies, the election campaign is another serious test of their capacity to ensure law and order in the country.
In conclusion I would like to say that draft amendments to the Criminal Code of Russia were introduced at the State Duma yesterday. They soften punishment for minor crimes, but the punishment for crimes against individuals remains unchanged.
I believe that the proposals on softening punitive measures are timely and absolutely justified and not only because our country has the largest prison population in the world. Not only because of that, but because if we want the criminal policy to be effective it must be selective, well-grounded and fair. You cannot treat everybody in the same way and tar everybody with the same brush. It cannot be done even if it creates some conveniences in our work.
I think we are doing the right thing.
I believe that all these measures will have a positive impact on the law and order situation. I would like to thank all of you for your work last year because we have not yet had a meeting in such a format. And I would like to wish you success in your activities.