Expanded meeting of Prosecutor General Office’s Board

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(Kremlin.ru – March 23, 2016)

Vladimir Putin took part in an expanded meeting of the Prosecutor General Office’s Board, reviewing the results for 2015 and priority work areas in 2016.

Fighting corruption and terrorism and protecting public and state interests in various areas were the main subjects of discussion.

A total of 317 prosecutors and judges from all around Russia took part in the board meeting.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon colleagues.

We are here to discuss the Prosecutor Office’s results for 2015, and set the priorities for work over the coming period.

Let me start by saying that the Prosecutor’s Office has been active in carrying out its principal duties, thus making a major contribution to cementing the legal foundations of our country and society. The Prosecutor’s Office identified a total of more than 5 million legal violations.

I also note your work in a social area of great importance and sensitivity for people, namely, protection of labour rights. The Prosecutor’s Office has helped to return 25 billion rubles in unlawfully withheld wage payments and have opened more than 500 criminal cases against dishonest employers.

The Prosecutor’s Office staff has actively defended entrepreneurs’ lawful rights and interests. Your efforts have brought to light tens of thousands of violations of the law in their regard, and honest business is now better protected from unjustified inspections.

The Prosecutor’s Office has become more effective in keeping watch on the defence industry’s activity. This was a particular request I made of the Prosecutor General.

At the same time, there is still much work ahead.

Keeping watch to ensure respect of citizens’ constitutional rights and freedoms remains a priority. More than 60 percent of legal violations every year are in this area.

Last year, as I expect the Prosecutor General will tell you, the Prosecutor’s Office noted 3.2 million violations of citizens’ rights and freedoms. This is a huge figure.

I ask you to continue to take the strictest measures with regard to organisations that delay wage payments, withhold social benefits and attempt to avoid paying taxes. I ask you to monitor particularly closely the situation at companies where layoffs are planned. Everything must be carried out in strict compliance with the law.

This applies in full to pensions, protection of mothers and children, and guaranteeing the rights of people with disabilities.

You must actively identify cases of poor quality medical services, violations in supplying medicines, and prevent attempts to raise prices without justification for vital medicines and speculative deals between retail chains.

Let me say again, protecting people’s lives and health and providing assistance to the most vulnerable population groups are our top priorities.

You must bring to light violations in price setting for utilities services and resettling people from dilapidated housing and give strict and objective legal assessment of inaction by watchdog officials and management and service organisations. We know that negligence, lack of conscientiousness in carrying out one’s duties, and violating safety rules can sometimes lead to tragic consequences.

We are making big efforts to improve the business climate and strengthen guarantees for entrepreneurs’ rights to protect them from unlawful pressure from law enforcement personnel.

The Prosecutor General’s Office and other organisations, above all the Supreme Court, Investigative Committee and Interior Ministry, must make a thorough analysis of the situation with criminal prosecution of businesspeople for economic crimes and draw up common concepts for decisions on opening criminal cases and pre-trial detention. We must exclude all possibility of abuse in this area. Let me add that this applies not only to businesspeople but to all Russian citizens.

Colleagues, one of the prosecutors’ main tasks is to coordinate the law enforcement agencies’ work to fight crime.

In your coordination work, I ask you to pay particular attention to crime prevention, especially among teenagers. You must help to organise this work with the municipalities. You also must make every effort to ensure that foreign citizens do not break the law. This was something we discussed in quite some detail at the recent Interior Ministry Board meeting. Your work should bring about a real drop in the criminal threat’s level.

Next, working with your colleagues from the Federal Penitentiary Service and people from human rights organisations, you must personally monitor the conditions in prisons and detention centres and make sure that they have modern standards of detention and healthcare.

I remember well my visit to Kresty [a pre-trial detention centre in St Petersburg]. True, this was many years ago, but people were getting teeth removed there without receiving any anaesthetic. What kind of situation is this? What century are we living in? I hope that nothing of this sort is going on today. I draw this issue to the attention of everyone working for the Prosecutor’s Office and monitoring the situation in our prisons.

I note the work the prosecutors have done to prevent extremism and terrorism. We must reliably protect society from the scourge of nationalism, radicalism and xenophobia and take tough action against any cases of this sort.

Fighting corruption is another important task. We must make sure that those guilty of corruption pay for it with their assets. This was one of the tasks set in January at the Anti-Corruption Council’s meeting.

As before, the defence industry requires our particular attention. Your task here is to bring to light ‘grey schemes’ for siphoning off budget money and cases of buying equipment for modernising defence enterprises at inflated prices, and generally help to ensure stricter budget discipline.

I ask you to continue paying the closest attention to ensuring the law is respected with regard to the measures to develop the defence industry and step up your cooperation with the Defence Ministry, the Federal Financial Monitoring Service and other agencies to monitor the use of public funds.

Honesty and rejection of all forms of corruption must be the norm for the prosecutors. You must respond rapidly to all reports of Prosecutor’s Office workers violating anti-corruption rules and carry out thorough, full and objective investigations.

Colleagues, our country and society need effective and productive work by the Prosecutor’s Office. I am sure that your experience and responsibility will help you to resolve the tasks before you and before the country as a whole.

Thank you very much for your attention.

<…>

[featured image is file photo]