TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Kremlin.ru – March 14, 2017)

Vladimir Putin attended a meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board, where he assessed the prosecution agencies’ performance in 2016 and outlined their priority tasks for 2017.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

As usual at these board meetings, we will discuss the prosecution agencies’ performance in 2016 and set the priorities for the near future.

Last year, the prosecution agencies uncovered over 5 million crimes. Our work must be as effective as possible in all spheres, but especially when it concerns the protection of citizens’ constitutional rights.

In this context, I would like to commend your operation during the election campaign and elections to the seventh State Duma and local governments. The prosecution agencies promptly reacted to violations of the election legislation and worked effectively within the scope of their authority during the election campaign. During the parliamentary election campaign, prosecutors registered 590 violations of citizens’ election rights.

A major part of your efforts concerns, as we know, the fight against extremism, terrorism and the proliferation of radical and nationalist ideologies. We discussed this at length at the meetings of the Federal Security Service Board and the Interior Ministry Board. I am confident that the Prosecutor General’s Office will continue combatting these threats.

Your continuous, system-wide efforts on the socioeconomic front are of equal importance. As you know, 75 percent of labour rights violations uncovered by prosecutors are related to salaries. Last year, prosecution offices helped recover 28.5 billion rubles in unpaid wages. Every manager or owner who attempts to shift the burden onto the workers must understand that he or she will face inexorable consequences.

At the same time, let me reiterate, as I have already said, that entrepreneurs acting in good faith should receive all-round support from the state. In this regard, I would like to commend your efforts to shield businesses from groundless inspections and various kinds of quibbles. I ask you to keep paying particular attention to this issue.

Apart from timely payment of salaries, pensions and benefits, you must also keep a close eye on the housing and utilities sector. It is necessary to promptly respond to complaints regarding exaggerated utilities bills or violations related to the collection of contributions for capital repairs, and poor quality of services in this area.

Unjustified price hikes on essential food products and drugs deserve special attention. This calls for a delicate approach, since inflation inevitably pushes prices up in various sectors. However, what I am talking about is unjustified, overblown prices. We need to crack down on low-quality, counterfeited products. Of course, we must make sure that vulnerable social groups benefit from a reliable safety net, including seniors, children, families with many children and people with disabilities.

You see how people respond to all cases of unfair treatment, indifference and callous behaviour by bureaucrats. It is the prosecutor office’s task to gain a detailed insight into each and every incident of this kind. It is important to identify system-wide legal and enforcement issues in order to prevent any conditions and risks that could result in a violation of rights.

Colleagues, another major goal is to fight corruption and crime in general. This calls for systematic, professional work at all stages, from preventing crime to pressing charges in court. Last year, 3,800 criminal proceedings were instituted on corruption charges following prosecutors’ investigations.

We must continue to tighten control, enhance financial discipline and prevent the misuse, squandering or embezzlement of budget funds in the sphere of government procurement, state defence orders, state property management and infrastructure projects.

I ask you to work closely with the concerned ministries and departments, the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the Taxation Service and the Financial Monitoring Service.

We must also develop international cooperation, sign more agreements and improve the system of mutual assistance with our foreign colleagues.

I would like to conclude by saying that our citizens mostly judge the state’s ability to protect their interests and uphold the truth and justice by the effectiveness of the prosecution service. We must live up to people’s expectations, working every day towards this.

I expect you to take an uncompromising and firm stand and to remain loyal to your duty.

Thank you for your work and I wish you every success.

Thank you very much.

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Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

To conclude this part, let me add just a few words. We are all well aware that in Russia the prosecutor’s office plays a special, unique role in public governance. Perhaps, there is no other country in the world where the prosecutor’s office occupies such an important place, and even if this is the case somewhere, it is usually no more than a copy of the Russian or Soviet experience.

As you know, the prosecutor’s office was established as the sovereign’s eye. Fortunately, our country is a republic, not a monarchy, which means that the prosecutor’s office should be the government’s eye when it comes to making sure that the interests of the people and the state as an institution are respected.

The scope of your activity is extremely broad, covering almost every possible sphere of human activity where the state is represented and the law exists. The prosecutor’s office is tasked with ensuring compliance with the law.

As you may know, there are countries aspiring to global leadership, or to be more precise to global dominance, who started creating so-called anti-corruption committees. These parallel government institutions more often than not are used for a completely different purpose of staging manipulations in domestic politics. Of course, Russia would never tolerate the creation of anything of this kind, but in some countries, including in Eastern Europe, similar structures have already been formed.

In order to be able to benefit the people and the state, you must be a) completely and totally honest, and b) effective in fighting corruption and infringements in the broadest possible sense.

Let me once again thank you for your work in 2016. I count on your efforts in 2017 and in the years to come.

Thank you very much.