President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: I recently discussed with you and with a number of other colleagues what I think are a number of important decisions aimed at improving our criminal laws and prosecution procedures – in other words, the criminal process as a whole. We discussed one issue that unfortunately remains very topical for us: the fight against organised crime in our country.
Several proposals were prepared with, incidentally, your participation and I have submitted them to the State Duma. In particular, I refer to improving the Criminal Code and Article 100 of the Criminal Procedure Code. I signed the relevant law that creates a new legal framework for bringing persons engaged in such criminal acts to justice. The law contains new concepts of criminal community, of criminal organisation, and a series of new classifications in Article 210 of the Criminal Code, as well as increases the penalty for participating in a criminal association to the maximum. In particular, under this law people who hold a so-called higher position in a criminal hierarchy will be liable for 15 to 20 years imprisonment or life sentence.
I would like to see this law effectively applied by all investigative agencies in our country and particularly the [Prosecutor General's Office] Investigative Committee, the main agent of investigative activity in Russia. This is the topic that I would like to discuss with you today.
Chairman of the Prosecutor General’S office Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin:
This change in the Russian Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code is an absolutely justified and timely step. It is well-known that organised crime is increasing and, most importantly, for a long time we were unable to prosecute organisers and instigators, those who coordinate the unlawful activities of criminal communities. Today this possibility has appeared and, most importantly, these changes in the law will help us prosecute those who operate in the background, not only the perpetrators themselves but also the customers, coordinators, those who used to remain in the shadows, who were not liable…
Dmitry Medvedev: And those who are, in fact, the main customers or the brains behind criminal decision-making, so to speak…
Alexander Bastrykin: … and the driving force. And it's very important that this law will allow us to bring to justice those with just a title, an image, or an assumed position of criminal leaders, people who hold such a position in the hierarchy of the criminal world. We will be able to bring them to justice for their involvement in meetings and assemblies of so-called criminal authorities of the underworld. I believe that this law will increase the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies, including the Prosecutor General's Office Investigative Committee.
Dmitry Medvedev: Very good. So we must then learn to use the amended law skillfully and apply it precisely to those who are respective law offenders, because like any other law this one, of course, requires a certain amount of reasoning. This is a new phenomenon in our criminal law and you put it exactly right when you said that we are dealing with people who identify themselves with the criminal world and do not hide this. As I understand, once the relevant criminal association is uncovered, this fact amounts to an offence and suffices for imposing criminal liability on such an individual.
Alexander Bastrykin: Exactly. We will work at this.
Dmitry Medvedev: Agreed. Thank you.