President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues,
Today we are meeting to discuss additional measures for neutralising terrorist and extremist threats in the North Caucasus.
I specifically chose to gather you here in this format: in addition to federal-level executives of law enforcement and security agencies, other meeting participants include interior ministers, heads of the main departments and local departments of the interior from various Russian constituent entities, and directors of the Federal Security Service [FSB] branches in the North Caucasus.
The reason for this meeting should be clear to everyone. I would like to say a few words regarding my views on this situation.
Some time ago, it started to appear that the situation concerning acts of terrorism in the Caucasus had improved significantly. Unfortunately, recent events show that this is not the case and that if efforts of countering terrorism are halted, there are serious negative consequences. Thus, despite certain progress reached in recent years, the measures to counteract terrorism will be continued and enhanced and new approaches applied.
The latest tragic events seriously require reassessment of the attitude to the problem. The relevant decisions should aim to improve the situation significantly. There should not be any pointless long-windedness. The overall situation is reflected in information summaries which all of you receive daily and which list all relevant details such as skirmish locations, numbers of terrorists killed and wounded, numbers of civilians and law enforcement officers injured. An overall improvement is therefore required, not some minor stabilisation, bur real, tangible stability.
I will list the measures to be taken urgently and I certainly expect that over the course of the meeting you will make your comments and proposals to elaborate on my suggestions.
I would identify eight main areas where we must concentrate our efforts, although there may be others as well.
First, we must optimise coordination among various agencies. This is a never-ending story of a permanent organisation and reorganisation of such coordination. Still, the recent acts of terror evidence that the teamwork of law enforcement agencies is far from being normal or efficient, and should therefore be restructured.
Second – and this is a very important challenge – we must pursue a thorough overhaul of human resources organisation and work at all levels, from patrol and sentry officers right up to the officials in charge of subdivisions of the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service and other security and law enforcement agencies.
We need professional and well-trained officers, ideally, absolutely new ones, properly trained at local police schools and academies. At the moment some regions within the Southern Federal District, first and foremost, of the North Caucasus, lack professional law enforcement officers. Until this problem is resolved and until we get enough local human resources, officers from other regions and from the federal head offices should be temporarily assigned here.
To accomplish that, a broad combination of incentives should be devised and applied to law enforcement officers who operate in hazardous environment and are exposed to fatal risks, i.e. to those who are either permanently stationed here or temporarily assigned to local agencies from other regions or from the federal offices. Those should certainly be financial incentives and they may not be economised on even in the times of hardships our country is now experiencing.
Of course, I will instruct the Cabinet accordingly on allocating additional funding. For that, there should be an estimate of the number of officers likely to be sent here from other regions, and there should be some general understanding of the support measures for the law enforcement agencies and employees here in the Caucasus, as not a single task will be accomplished without a proper set of incentives.
The incentives in law enforcement must be coupled with discharging those malfeasants who abuse their duties; such cases are regretfully abundant.
We will not be able to revert the situation instantaneously, but we must nevertheless strive to improve it. Effective, tough and consistent action is also needed to put an end to domination of clan interests, to the sale of job positions, and to fight all forms of corruption.
At the same time, it is imperative to address the problem of inappropriate spending and misappropriation of government funds, the problem which has become critical in the North Caucasus. Of course, the situation is far from ideal in other regions, too, as corruption is an evil that has infected our entire country. Still, corruption is much more widespread and deep-rooted in government institutions in the North Caucasus compared to other regions.
My next point is that we must effectively guarantee the protection of law enforcement personnel, as this is the factor affecting the peaceful lives and well-being of millions of our people. I refer to protection in the broadest sense of the word which includes the above financial incentives, insurance, and employing advanced means and mechanisms for guarding sites, buildings, compounds, and temporary facilities, because most of what is currently in place is absolutely inadequate. The latest terrorist attack in Nazran was a tragic proof of such inadequacy, as lack in basic precautions and simple security measures resulted in deaths of and injuries to an enormous number of policemen. This was all due to unforgivable mistakes which, to say it plainly, may qualify to a crime.
Senior officers at all levels of the law enforcement agencies represented here today will be held responsible for failures in employing proper security measures. Such failures will result in dismissals, regardless of previous records. The officers in charge of security arrangements will be held directly responsible for any casualties. Keep this in mind.
We must also think about amending our legislation. Yesterday, I held a meeting with heads of the federal law enforcement agencies and we reviewed at least a few suggestions in this regard. I think we could further discuss them today as well.
I believe that within a very short period of time a decision could be approved on the procedures for changing territorial jurisdiction for terrorism- or extremism-related criminal trials, to ensure that criminals and corruptionists cannot exert pressure on courts hearing such cases. If we cannot do a good job of bringing these criminals to justice here, then let’s do it in Moscow, St Petersburg, Kamchatka, or wherever else. One way or another, they must be sentenced and serve their terms.
There is another very complicated issue which we nevertheless should examine and discuss. It is the issue of declaring ineligibility of certain criminal deeds for trials by jury. First and foremost, I am referring to cases involving organised criminal groups and associations. Unfortunately, juries fail to properly handle such cases for a variety of reasons. I believe such cases and such crimes should be heard by panels of professional judges.
There have been other suggestions on improving the procedures for appointing judges and court-martial officers, which we will discuss today.
There is another matter to be addressed and I hereby instruct the Security Council Secretary and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District to hold a full-fledged meeting on the socio-economic development of the Caucasus and South Russia. We need to make additional efforts. Most importantly, we need new projects and new jobs, because crime is still rooted in the same societal ills: low living standards, poverty, and the dominance of corrupt officials. As a result, people lack the motivation to engage in a normal lifestyle and therefore choose asocial behaviour and illicit means to safeguard their rights.
My last comment is, those who committed the recent crimes against the officials, law enforcement officers, regular citizens, and human rights activists of Ingushetia must face a severe and inescapable punishment. We must insistently fight terrorists, dispensing with all niceties, eliminating them without emotion or hesitation. Otherwise, we will not be able to achieve any success.
Mr Yedelev [Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev], I would like you to help Ingushetia's Ministry of the Interior to organise its work properly. Help them to build up their personnel, have some officers temporarily assigned here. They will need your moral support as well. Today we have discussed financial assistance, a set of measures to be implemented not only in Ingushetia, but in Ingushetia as well as in other regions.
You talked about the impact of various factors, international factors such as the attempts to finance underground criminal gangs, to export religious extremism; you are right, these external factors have an impact. But the main problem is, sadly, rooted in our country. You know exactly when conditions for the development of crime and religious extremism were established: following the disintegration of the state. The roots of the problem are in the makeup of our lives: in unemployment, poverty, in clans who don't give a whit about the people, but simply divide the cash flows arriving here among themselves, who fight for contracts and then with each other to settle scores, and in corruption which, indeed, has become very widespread within the law enforcement agencies too. You know all this as well.
Our task is to eradicate these problems. Let’s be realistic: the task is very complex and will take many years. But no one will resolve this problem for us. The law enforcement component is important in this respect and the socio-economic one even more so, but this is the topic for another meeting.