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Expanded meeting of the Interior Ministry Board

March 21, 2014, Moscow

Vladimir Putin took part in an expanded meeting of the Interior Ministry Board.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends,

The Interior Ministry has undergone a lot of change and modernisation over the recent years. A modern legal base has been established and human resources methods and approaches are changing too. The Ministry’s central organisation has been optimised, as have regional branches, and the level of technical resources has also increased substantially.

Of course, it would be impossible to achieve truly radical change overnight in such a complex and multifunctional system as the Interior Ministry. A large number of internal problems had built up, as you all know. But the state authorities, and more important still, the public want to see improvement take place at even faster pace, want to see quality results that will make their effect felt on the country as a whole and on people at the individual level.

I am sure that the Ministry has the administrative, professional and human resource potential needed for achieving these important objectives. In this respect, I want to note once again the well-coordinated work that the Interior Ministry and Interior Ministry forces carried out during the Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi, and also during the World Student Games in Kazan.

Colleagues and friends, I want to thank everyone in the Interior Ministry and its forces who ensured security at these big events. I thank you for your professionalism, responsible approach, discipline, and your respectful attitude towards the guests, athletes, supporters, and the people of Sochi.

In many respects you not only ensured security but also created a positive atmosphere at these events. You gave a clear demonstration of what our law enforcement agencies can accomplish, including in terms of swift response and good coordination with other agencies and services and with the regional authorities.

I think it is important that we now take this positive experience and build on it, including in the big organisational task that is the establishment of branches of our law enforcement agencies in Crimea and Sevastopol, in accordance with our country’s laws.

The Minister and I were talking just now: the Ministry, jointly with the Presidential Executive Office, has prepared corresponding documents and draft presidential executive orders so that we can recognise military ranks, service records and diplomas for Interior Ministry staff members who used to work in Crimea and Sevastopol. This will allow us to formalise many of their documents so they can work. We must resolve all these issues as efficiently as possible with material and social provisions for Interior Ministry staff in Crimea and Sevastopol.

Colleagues, I would like to outline the priority challenges faced by the Interior Ministry in the near future and in the long-term.

The most important among them remains the protection of citizens’ legal interests and resolutely combatting crime. I will note that last year, we saw a continued trend in the decrease of registered crime numbers, including serious and particularly grave offenses.

This trend has continued in Russia over the last seven years, and it is certainly a good result. The number of registered property offences has decreased by 7% and the number of burglaries has dropped by over 10%.

At the same time, the overall number of crimes committed remains significant. So far, we have been unable to increase the crime detection rate. The share of unsolved crimes in Russia is nearly 44%; I want to draw your attention to this figure. It carries serious criminogenic risks, is detrimental to the department’s authority and, indeed, to the entire system of power; it leads to a lack of faith in justice, the power of the law and the inevitability of punishment for criminals.

We need to turn this situation around, first and foremost by increasing the quality of operative investigation and criminal procedure work, at all levels: from the neighbourhood branch to the central headquarters, and build more effective cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.

It is also imperative to react immediately to alarms and calls from people, identify and investigate them, without allowing delays, run-arounds, buck-passing and other types of heartless, bureaucratic attitudes toward this work, or even direct violations of the law and service standards. I am asking managers at all levels to monitor this very strictly and thoroughly.

An important area of your work involves decriminalising the economy and participating in the creation of a healthy business climate. I will note that compared to 2012, we have seen a nearly 20% drop (a little over 18%) in the number of economic crimes.

Incidentally, these indicators are directly related to fundamental changes in our legislation and law enforcement practices by interior affairs agencies. I feel that in the future, we must also consistently eliminate various opportunities for unfounded meddling by law enforcement agencies in economic affairs and disputes between businesses.

At the same time, we must be more active in cases when the interests of citizens, businesses and the state are genuinely threatened, including corporate raiding and unlawful financial operations, the embezzlement of public funds and corruption. It is imperative to use new approaches that will allow us to effectively identify such crimes in the early stages and thoroughly prepare the evidence.

Another priority is ensuring public safety, first and foremost by reducing the level of crime in public places, on the streets, and in our cities’ and towns’ courtyards.

The Federal Law On Citizen Participation in Maintaining Public Order should be very helpful in this work. It was submitted to the State Duma on your initiative and its goal is to engage volunteers who wish to help the police maintain order. Incidentally, most federal constituent entities have similar laws, which work effectively.

Our approach to preventing crime requires some serious adjustment. We have addressed this topic many times, putting a lot of effort into building a corresponding state system. At the same time, it is clear that the system’s legal and methodological framework must fully correspond to modern demands.

The time has come to update many of the stipulations that create the legislative backbone of this system, paying particular attention to minors and individuals in difficult situations.

We will need to improve the efficiency of neighbourhood police. Their assignments and responsibilities are very extensive, and their area of work is certainly difficult and quite complex. It is important to release them from non-core functions and allow them more time to be involved in their direct duties.

Citizens should know the faces of their neighbourhood police officers, as they did in the past, and police officers should have a good understanding of the problems faced by their territory and its residents, including the risk groups, and be aware of the latest information. In many cases, this information allows them to identify criminals more quickly. For example, statistically speaking, in nearly one quarter of burglaries, the criminal’s identity was discovered with the help of neighbourhood police.

Furthermore, there are serious risks associated with uncontrolled migration flows. Last year’s data analysis shows that the number of crimes committed by foreign nationals – first and foremost, citizens of CIS nations – grew by 10%.

Clearly, in addition to the existing decisions aimed at establishing order in the field of migration – and I want to stress that this is not some sort of campaign, this is serious work aimed at improving the situation in this sphere – we need to consider an additional set of measures for effectively preventing such crimes and using combined knowhow, strategic information and assistance from our colleagues in CIS nations.

The same approach needs to be applied in countering illegal migration and building closer coordination – first and foremost with security agencies, the migration services, bailiff offices – in order to identify and intercept groups organising illegal migration, giving particular attention to territories adjacent to the border.

The fight against extremism remains one of the most important objectives of the Interior Ministry. Statistics show that such crimes have increased in the past year, and this poses a serious threat to our entire society. I have already said this and I want to repeat it: it is unacceptable to close our eyes and underestimate anyone’s extremist actions.

Your professional duty is to emphatically fight against all manifestations of xenophobia, nationalism and religious hatred, work to prevent extremism among young people, and use all of the Interior Ministry legal and organisational opportunities to intercept hate speech and radical propaganda, including online and through other information technologies and resources.

As experts, you are well aware that there is a direct link between extremist and terrorist groups, and here, the Interior Ministry must also work actively with colleagues from other security agencies and services with the National Anti-Terrorism Committee serving as a coordinator.

I want to stress that the responsibility of all officials related to anti-terrorist security will only grow and increase – in order for us to finally nip this very serious threat to our nation in the bud.

There is another issue I would like to touch on separately: road safety. You know, we have toughened penalties for speeding and drunk driving, and adopted a whole range of federal and regional programmes; we have increased the technical equipment of the state traffic police several-fold, and practically all the main highways are equipped with video cameras. However, the number of traffic incidents is not decreasing. Moreover, the number of accidents involving drunk drivers increased by nearly 6% compared to 2012; there were over 13,500 such accidents, which is a very worrying figure.

I want to stress that every such incident should be treated as extreme, and perpetrators should be subject to the strictest measures provided by the law. And, of course, we need to raise the standards of behaviour on the road. Government agencies, public organisations, civil society groups and the media should all be involved in this work

Colleagues, one of today’s priorities is strengthening the Interior Ministry’s human resources. It is important to ensure consistency in appointing administrators, taking a principled approach to the professional and personal qualities of staff at all levels. We need to continue training and preparing the pool of high-potential managers, at both the federal and regional level. We must increase the level of internal discipline and require managers to be held accountable for the actions of their subordinates.

For its part, the government will help create good conditions for serving in the Interior Ministry. We will continue to equip units with modern equipment, transport, weapons and means of communication, increasing employees’ salaries and their level of legal and social protection.

As you know, budgetary expenditures for the maintenance of the Ministry and interior forces have been growing in recent years. I will also note that over the past two years, there has been a noticeable increase in Interior Ministry staff salaries. Housing is still an issue, and funding is being allocated for purchasing and building housing, and we will increase the availability of this programme as finances allow.

In conclusion, I would like to wish the Interior Ministry and interior forces staff success in their service. I am confident that you will continue to fulfil all the objectives before you conscientiously.

Thank you for your attention. Good luck!

March 21, 2014, Moscow