Meeting of Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office Board 2019-03-19 14:15:00 Moscow Vladimir Putin took part in an expanded meeting of the Russian Federation Prosecutor-General’s Office Board. The President assessed the 2018 performance of prosecution agencies and charted the main tasks for 2019. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues, Today, at this expanded meeting of the Prosecutor-General’s Office Board, we will discuss the results that you have managed to achieve in 2018 and the key tasks, due to be accomplished by you. I would like to note straight away that, last year, Russian prosecutors made a substantial contribution to the fight against crime, extremism and corruption. I would like to note that you reviewed numerous appeals by citizens, that is, about five million in 2018. Wage arrears were also repaid with the direct involvement of prosecution agencies. You continued to monitor compliance with social-sector legislation. And you have, of course, achieved impressive results with regard to wages. Arrears worth over 26 billion rubles have been repaid. On the whole, the specific measures taken helped reduce the number of violations of citizens’ rights, related to remuneration, by 15 percent compared to 2017. The defence industry’s performance is being monitored more effectively. I asked Mr Chaika [the Prosecutor General] to report on this matter separately because you and I know that the state sets aside substantial funding for these purposes. And we need to ensure a serious statesman-like approach regarding all aspects linked with the fulfilment of our plans to boost the national defence capability, to prevent any violations and any thefts which is the most important thing. Unfortunately, we know of such facts, it happened… The principled position of military prosecutors made it possible to improve troop-level discipline, law and order. I want to thank Russian prosecutors for conscientiously fulfilling their official duties, for their professionalism and principled attitude. We need to continue scoring the same impressive results as before, and to make sure that the laws be unfailingly enforced all over the Russian Federation in a uniform manner, and we need to resolutely oppose any manifestations of arbitrary rule and nihilistic attitudes towards the law. I would like to draw your attention to the following high-priority tasks. We have started implementing long-term national projects. These programmes receive substantial, if not to say unprecedentedly large, resources. And they must be spent appropriately, efficiently and provide the society with the desired results. I am asking you to closely monitor this aspect in line with your powers. It is no less important to help formulate the regulatory framework of the national projects. You also know that all oversight and control documents will have to undergo detailed scrutiny over a period of the next two years. We need to resolutely get rid of archaisms together with everything that hampers development. It goes without saying that we must do this in the most careful manner possible. We need to be very attentive, while making certain decisions. I am confident that you will take the most active part in drafting and updating the legislative and regulatory framework, including departmental documents, together with colleagues from other departments, members of parliament, the business community and the Government. I would like to ask you to pay attention to this. In this connection, I would like to mention another important job that I have discussed at recent meetings of the boards of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service. This implies more effective protection of entrepreneurs’ rights and efforts to facilitate the improvement of the business climate. Colleagues, we perceive this as extremely important because we must compensate for all outside restrictions facing us by improving the quality of our work inside the country. We can accomplish this, and everything is in our hands. I would like to request the prosecutors to resolutely respond to any violations in this field and to provide entrepreneurs with effective assistance and support in defending their legitimate rights as well as interests. Your responsibility is to monitor the situation related to the criminal prosecution of business people and if necessary, promptly use prosecution response measures, such as the prevention of unsubstantiated extension of detention or dissolution of companies resulting in people losing their jobs. And, of course, it is necessary to continue to consistently bring about order when it comes to labour and social relations and to monitor the issues of employment, especially of young people and people of pre-retirement age. There should be a strong response to pension arrears and any violations in providing subsidised medicine and rehabilitation equipment. I would also like to request you to take a principled approach to the compliance with legislation regarding family support, the use of maternity capital and providing housing to orphans. Of course there are many economic issues and possibilities at regional levels, and so forth, but these economic or financial limitations are not always the result of unscrupulous behaviour of government agencies. I also expect more results from you in protecting the rights of minors. Despite the work done, there are very many violations. Moreover, their number grew last year. In addition to this, it is necessary to seriously improve the protection of children and teenagers from criminal assaults. I would like to ask the Prosecutor General’s Office to analyse the situation and to propose additional measures to prevent such crimes. Colleagues, One of the priorities for the prosecutor’s office is the coordination of law enforcement agencies’ activities in terms of crime prevention. It is important to improve the mechanisms of interaction with the Interior Ministry, the Investigative Committee and other agencies in order to reduce the levels of crime, extremism and corruption, to insist on legal compliance when accepting reports of a crime and registering them, as well as in collecting and transferring statistics. It is necessary to promptly identify and eliminate violations in the work of the bodies involved in criminal intelligence and surveillance operations and to monitor the quality of investigations of criminal cases at all levels. Let me repeat that the requirements of criminal procedure legislation on the reasonable duration of criminal proceedings must be strictly observed. The decision for detention as a level of restriction must correspond to the gravity of the charges rather than made because some investigator thinks it will create conditions for what he considers a more thorough inquiry. I would like to ask you to display more responsibility when consenting to a criminal trial based on special procedure. If there are doubts in proving criminal charges or the voluntary character and awareness of the defendant’s request for it, we need to insist on a trial under the normal procedure. Trying cases under special procedure is certainly an important tool but it should not serve as a cover up for a poor, incompetent investigation. The prosecutor’s office should continually focus on the penal and correctional system. In cooperation with their colleagues from the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), human rights ombudsmen in the regions, and representatives of human rights organisations, prosecutors must toughen their supervision over the living conditions of the people in detention. They should make sure that modern standards pertaining to detention conditions and medical support are strictly observed. Furthermore, prosecution authorities should improve their work in terms of environmental protection and natural resource management. You know how sensitive this issue is for society, for people. This is also a vital factor for the economy: now that we are moving to new standards in this area it is essential to carefully monitor this. I am referring to the need to fully organise municipal waste management and to respond promptly to unauthorised waste dumps. Any citizen complaints must be reviewed very thoroughly and result in specific actions. Colleagues! In conclusion I would like to emphasise that by tradition the work of the prosecution agencies is in the focus of public attention. You are endowed with serious authority. You bear huge responsibility for protecting the interests of the state and the rights and freedoms of the people. I am sure you understand this well and will do everything to continue fulfilling the tasks set before you in a professional manner. Thank you for your attention. <…> Vladimir Putin: Mr Chaika, colleagues, I have literally just two comments to make. Of course, the scope of duties of the prosecutor's office includes everything that is regulated by law in the country, practically, our entire life. So, there is no point in listing things over and over again. I have already spoken about priorities, and the Prosecutor General has just mentioned them. I have, literally, a few general, at first glance, comments, which may even look trivial to professional lawyers. My first point is that, first of all, you need to focus in your work on protecting the legitimate interests of citizens. This is the number one priority. In this sense, social protection, such as timely payment of wages and social benefits or providing housing for entitled categories of citizens, should of course be prioritised. My second point is about major financial flows going from the state budget to certain industries. We have already discussed the state defence order which remains a priority. Still, this work is being done at specific enterprises and in specific regions. There are many of them but not all regions. The priority national projects we are beginning to work on concern all Russian regions without exception. There are certain delays both on the part of the Government and on the part of the regions, not all the decisions that need to be made in order to begin this work have been made, but the work will begin in the near future. This means that large financial flows will start moving to the regions, and the corresponding work envisaged by these plans should be carried out there. Of course, I am expecting you to focus on the task at hand. Do not interfere in what people are doing, but monitor the work and the way public – people’s – money is spent. This is extremely important. I am really counting on you. I really am. We have an innovation in environmental protection. It should have been introduced long ago but we delayed and delayed this, incidentally because of difficult conditions in the economy and insistent demands and requests from the business community. But now starting from January 1, 2019 we began introducing the latest and most accessible technology. The first 300 enterprises should start operating in accordance with these new rules. These are the so-called first category enterprises that cause the most environmental damage. Starting in 2022 other enterprises in this category should join in. In this context I would note, as I have already mentioned here, what is an absolutely obvious thing for a professional lawyer: the prosecutor’s office is neither the Government, nor the Economic Development Ministry, nor the Labour Ministry, and it should never be guided by considerations of economic, social, or, even less so, political expediency. We hear very often that some legal requirement cannot be met for economic, financial or some other reasons. Such things happen. What does this mean? This means, in part that the Prosecutor-General's Office should aggregate all such moments in the life of society and the state and make proposals to the Government, the Presidential Executive Office and the Federal Assembly and explain to them that such and such provision of law does not work or is impossible to implement. What should the President, the Government and the Federal Assembly do publicly in this case? They must change or cancel this provision of law. Or else we will land in the same situation we faced in our recent history in the 1990s. At that time a host of regulatory acts that sounded good to ordinary people were adopted and more than half, I can say with confidence, were not or could not have been implemented due to the very difficult financial and economic situation in the country. What did this mean? Swindling and simply deceiving people. Laws were adopted by people who knew they would never be implemented. A vast number of benefits were announced by those who understood that the budget was unable to foot the bill. We cannot afford to return to this practice by any means. If it is required to make so-called unpopular but needed decisions it is necessary to go to the people and describe your position publicly and make the decision based on honest dialogue with citizens. Indeed, our people have different levels of education and training but they will always understand honest dialogue. This is why it is necessary to encourage this conduct, this style of work at all levels of government, including regional authorities, and in this context the prosecutor’s office, the Prosecutor-General’s Office also bears significant responsibility. I would also like to ask Mr Chaika to bear this in mind, to get relevant information from you, systematise it and make proposals on improving the regulatory framework. I would like to thank you for your work and wish you success. Thank you very much.