President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Yury Yakovlevich, I have called you here to discuss several issues. The first is that yesterday, I signed the final version of the legislation on fighting corruption. Yesterday, I spoke about it with the director of the FSB, but, as you know, the Prosecutor’s Office is no less responsible for carrying out this legislation. The Prosecutor’s Office conducts oversight, and, of course, an important part of the responsibility for carrying out these laws is entrusted to you. Thus, I give you the same instructions as those that I gave to other law-enforcement agencies: to immediately begin implementing the entire body of legislation on fighting corruption. And it must be done sensibly because, I would like to emphasize again, this legislation is not simple; we do not yet have experience applying it, it addresses very complicated and sometimes sensitive areas, and it will certainly elicit various reactions. And so, it is important to execute this legislation carefully. This is our first issue.
Another issue is one which we have been dealing with for a long time: the protection of our unfortunate entrepreneurs, who are suffering from various forms of non-procedural actions and numerous absurd, sometimes corrupt inspections. I also signed two laws today: one relates to eliminating the so-called non-procedural rights of authorities from the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the second relates to protecting legal entities and individual entrepreneurs during measures of governmental control and oversight, by limiting the number of such inspections and increasing their effectiveness.
You have made some suggestions; now we have a more specific regulatory structure. We also need to think about how to make it work immediately, since, judging by people’s communications with me as well as articles appearing the press, it certainly seems that if the situation in this area is changing at all, it is changing very slowly.
Finally, I would like for us to talk about the situation overall, including the situation surrounding not only the protection of entrepreneurs’ rights, but employee rights as well: the rights of workers in the difficult circumstances of the financial market, halted production in many areas and, of course, the creation of legal regulations in the interaction between employers and employees, and maintaining them at the necessary level.
So these are the topics I would like for us to discuss. I assume that you also have several of your own.
Prosecutor General Yury Chaika: Thank you, Dmitry Anatolyevich.
Just yesterday, I had an operative conference about meeting the demands of the law on protecting entrepreneurs’ rights, which will come into effect on July 1 of next year, with relation to the extent of the power held by the Prosecutor’s Office. We will monitor the situation regarding the conduction of unplanned inspections and, beginning in January 2010, the Prosecutor’s Office must institute a uniform policy for all planned inspections in the Russian Federation.
(Next, Yury Chaika informed the President of all the organizational measures in this area and the formation of a regulatory framework.)
Dmitry Medvedev: We must implement measures so that you do more than just collect information; when there is a legal basis for saying that the number of inspections undergone by any given entrepreneur, company, or legal entity is higher than the established limit (for example, one inspection every three years, as it is currently established), then those who conduct the extraneous inspection will face negative consequences. This means that at the very least, the parties responsible will be subject to disciplinary action; if any elements of corruption are discovered, perpetrators will be held responsible for criminal acts. This needs to be made publicly known, to discourage unnecessary inspections.
Yury Chaika: You are absolutely right. Sanctions must be imposed, and we will post information on our website of such inspections and where they have taken place, in order to inform the public. We will certainly do this.
As for the difficult legislation, in the context of the current economic crisis and falling production, we have designated the protection of citizens’ rights, especially in the area of labour legislation, as the key direction of action for Prosecutor’s Office authorities. Beginning on October 1, we have been monitoring this situation.
(The Prosecutor General told the Head of State about specific actions being taken by the Prosecutor’s Office to expose illegal activity in closing businesses, firing employees, and abusing laws related to paying wages.)
As for corruption, Dmitry Anatolyevich, we held a large coordinating meeting for law-enforcement authorities in September, where we determined the direction for our cooperative activities. Furthermore, we created a joint analytical group, which will also monitor the situation as it unfolds in relation to carrying out this law. Twice a year, we will inform you about how everything stands on this issue.
Also, Dmitry Anatolyevich, I would like to say that we have released a book – the “White Book” – about the tragedy in Ossetia, the events that took place in August 2008. I would like to give it to you. This book was prepared based on the materials collected by the Military Prosecutor’s Office and the Prosecutor General’s Investigative Committee.
In my view, this is an objective presentation of the events that took place there. Everything is based on records of questioning witnesses, expert conclusions, and direct witness testimonies. Accordingly, it offers a variety of documents which, as far as we are concerned, also serve as proof – proof of Georgia’s aggression toward the South Ossetian people and toward citizens of the Russian Federation.
I believe that the world should know about these events. This book contains only facts, an objective picture of the events that took place.
Dmitry Medvedev: This is a very important document. Naturally, it is important to act so that all interested parties in any country can read it, including international organizations, organizations that enforce criminal prosecution, and, if necessary, the courts, because this was truly a set of crimes against South Ossetia and against citizens of the Russian Federation. Of course, these documents are quite serious. I can see that it has various photographs, the passport of a Ukrainian citizen.
To return to what you were saying about controlling adherence to citizens’ labour rights, workers’ labour rights – this is an extremely important topic for the near future because, of course, there are hardships for everyone in times of crisis, for employers, and even more so, for employees. If anyone is undertaking procedures prescribed by the Labour Code, they must be undertaken in accordance with current laws, without allowing for manipulation or intentional misinterpretation of these laws. Therefore, if we are talking about the imitation of job dismissal or, for example, the forced resignation then it is entirely obvious that the prosecutor should react. And here, of course, the Prosecutor’s Office has the greatest amount of responsibility, since your office is the one that citizens will be turning to.