President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
At today’s meeting, we will discuss the results of the Prosecutor General’s Office work in 2014 and talk about the priorities for the future.
Strengthening law and order remains the key task of the prosecution corps. This includes reliable protection of the rights and liberties of the citizens and combatting crime, bureaucratic arbitrariness and corruption. We all know that smooth and steady development of society, development of Russia as a rule-of-law, economically strong, welfare state directly depends on the efficient, precise and competent actions of the entire law enforcement system.
I would like to note that in a number of areas you managed to make certain progress last year. Thus, in the year that the new law giving the Prosecutor General’s Office the authority to block extremist internet resources without a court ruling has been in effect, illegal information has been removed from over three thousand websites.
Joint efforts of military prosecutors and the Defence Ministry’s leadership have helped improve discipline, law and order in the troops. The prosecution agencies’ involvement made it possible for citizens to receive about 8 billion rubles in wage arrears. The prosecutors provided serious assistance to local authorities and self-government bodies in Crimea and Sevastopol in developing a legal base in line with Russian legislation. I would like to thank you and your colleagues for diligently carrying out your duties.
Just as before, the main focus in your work should be on the protection of the rights and liberties of our citizens, both political, electoral rights and those pertaining to labour and social relations. According to statistics, the number of violations of law unfortunately remains impressive. The Prosecutor General’s Office itself reports 5 million violations of law in the area of citizens’ rights and liberties disclosed in 2014.
We must strongly respond to employers’ attempts to shift their costs and problems to their employees and save on labour safety measures. Besides, we should keep an eye on the implementation in the regions of measures to stabilize the labour market, including the employment of young people and the promotion of training programmes.
Within their authority, prosecutors have to constantly supervise the observance of rights of citizens to social security, pensions and social benefits.
I would like to remind you that pensioners account for a quarter of Russia’s population. According to experts, for many of them pensions are the main and vital, practically the only source of income. Therefore, there should be no delays here.
You should also strictly control matters pertaining to ensuring social security for Great Patriotic War veterans.
Your direct duty is to more efficiently protect the rights of children and young people. All laws dealing with prevention of child neglect should be complied with in full and in a timely fashion.
I would also like to stress the need to take on a principled stance in cases of violations of legislation pertaining to family support, the use of maternal capital and allocation of housing for orphans.
We have to more actively rectify violations in allocating medicines for privileged categories of citizens and in setting the prices for drugs and vital medicines. As we all know, for millions of our citizens – the elderly, the disabled and those with severe or chronic illnesses – this is of vital importance.
A pressing task today is the exposure of unwarranted price hikes on agricultural produce and foods. The Prosecutor General’s Office has been working on this since last September, and the matter certainly requires greater attention.
We all understand, of course, the possibility of seasonal growth in prices for certain products; sometimes it is necessary for economic reasons. However, price fixing and economically ungrounded price hikes, sometimes manifold, are inadmissible.
We have always been in favour of developing business, free enterprise and market relations. However, the misconduct of resellers, wholesalers or retailers who arbitrarily raise prices should receive the proper legal treatment.
I would like to ask you, together with law enforcement agencies, to further track the prices for socially desirable goods. You should be strict and tough regarding any other unlawful market machinations that lead to violations of consumers’ rights.
The Prosecutor General’s Office has been entrusted with coordinating efforts of the country’s entire law enforcement system in combatting crime. People expect you to apply your authority effectively and with knowledge to achieve a massive reduction in crime, extremism and corruption.
This makes the work of prosecutors to expose violations in registering crimes very important. Statistics say that, unfortunately, such facts are just as numerous as before. In 2014 there were some 2.5 million illegal resolutions on forbearance of criminal charges and over 450 thousand resolutions to suspend or terminate investigation on a case.
I would like to repeat that ungrounded refusal to initiate criminal proceedings or delays in investigation violate the basic legal principle of inevitability of punishment. This gives reason for victims to doubt the efficiency of the law enforcement system and law in general, to doubt the capability of the state to restore justice, to defend their rights, their personal dignity and property.
At the Interior Ministry Board meeting in early March, we noted that despite the overall tendency for a reduction in crime, a number of acute issues remain. Thus, almost half of all crimes were committed by those who already have a criminal record. The number of crimes in public places has gone up. Here the Prosecutor General’s Office needs to strengthen cooperation between agencies and take additional measures, including preventive ones.
Prosecutors should carefully keep records and efficiently use their authority in supporting prosecution in court.
You should be more active in disclosing cases of violations of the law on terrorism and extremism and respond without delay to any calls for illegal action, violence or mass disturbances.
I would like to focus on the topic of protecting the rights of economic entities. We have been doing a lot lately to remove administrative barriers for businesses, to relieve them of excessive attention on the part of supervisory agencies. In 2014, prosecutors have revealed and curtailed over 143 thousand violations of the laws protecting entrepreneurs’ rights.
However, the habit to control is very strong. In the past 5 years supervisory agencies made proposals regarding 6 million planned and over 200 thousand snap, unscheduled inspections. Only half of them were sanctioned by the Prosecutor’s Office and found reasonable.
I would like you to keep track of this situation and work closely with the corresponding agencies. However, the Prosecutor’s Office should also show restraint in conducting such inspections and proceed from law and reason.
As of this year, the Prosecutor General’s Office has been instructed to keep a register of inspections of legal entities and self-employed individuals and develop annual plans of inspections of compliance with land legislation.
We should also keep up the pace of work in such an important sphere as the protection of rights of citizens in housing and utilities. True, the amount of open theft, deceit and failure to comply with commitments in this area has gone down. However, there are still quite a few people who wish to profit from the utilities sector.
The schemes used for asset stripping, bankrupting utilities companies and embezzlement of funds allocated for modernisation are becoming ever more devious. 347 thousand crimes in this area were exposed in 2014.
The proper use of budget funds, including those allocated for the implementation of federal and regional programmes should remain in the focus of attention and control. This is a key condition for meeting the state’s social commitments to its citizens.
Equally important is the need to implement the state defence order in a timely and precise fashion. I have discussed this on several occasions with the Prosecutor General and the heads of investigative agencies. The enormous resources allocated for this are of special significance.
Meanwhile, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office itself, over 11 thousand violations in the implementation of the state defence order were exposed in 2014 and 177 criminal cases were opened. This is not bad, but we all know what the result should really be if you work properly. How do you measure the quality of such work? By court rulings. Therefore, I expect everything to be done within the law, of course, but the materials would be sufficient to allow courts to rule appropriately.
We should preclude any attempt at raising contract prices without good reason or at introducing unnecessary mediators between the customer and the contractor. Legal action should be applied to violators.
Our citizens expect to see greater results from the prosecutor’s office in such an area as combatting corruption. Last year has demonstrated certain results here. However, we should not stop; we should continue monitoring the application of anti-corruption legislation, including the practice of having the guilty party pay fines to compensate for their crimes.
Prosecutors should remain firm on matters of ensuring the constitutional rights of citizens under prosecution. Along with other services and law enforcement agencies, they should do everything possible to make sure that those who have been isolated from society are kept in proper conditions. They are also citizens of the Russian Federation and have rights that should be complied with.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the prosecution corps once again for the serious and responsible approach to their work. I am certain that you will further protect law and order and serve our nation.
Thank you for your attention.