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Expanded session of the Interior Ministry Board

March 4, 2015, Moscow

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

The meeting reviewed the Ministry’s performance in 2014 and set priorities for 2015.

* * *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Today, we will discuss the Interior Ministry’s main results for 2014, analyse work on current tasks, and set priorities for the future.

Interior Ministry personnel were directly and actively involved in ensuring security at the Olympics and Paralympics in Sochi last year. Interior Ministry troops acted with courage in counterterrorist operations. Of course I also want to make particular mention of the work to establish and organise in very rapid time the regional Interior Ministry departments in Crimea and Sevastopol following their reunification with the Russian Federation. Public order and the crime situation in the region are under control.

Looking around the country as a whole, the crime rate decreased in 50 Russian regions last year, and the number of grave and especially grave crimes was down by nearly 2.5 percent. Juvenile delinquency was down in all federal districts, by around 12 percent on average. These are good results overall.

At the same time though, we need to intensify our work in all key areas over the coming year. This particularly concerns the need to solve crimes, both new ones and those dating from earlier years. We really need to achieve a turnaround in the situation here and take the Interior Ministry and the entire law enforcement system’s work to a new level.

Headline-making crimes, including politically motivated ones, require our most serious attention. We need to rid Russia of the kind of shame and tragedy that we have just witnessed – I am referring to the audacious murder of Boris Nemtsov right in the centre of Moscow. 

I want to note too that the number of crimes committed in public places increased by 8.5 percent last year. We must respond immediately to all such crimes and place particular emphasis on preventive measures.

Now a few words about street crime. We should make more use of citizens’ volunteer patrols in this area. Such citizens’ groups have already been established in many regions and they complement well the Interior Ministry’s work. We need to spread the best practice here and clearly define the responsibilities and powers of the people carrying out this work together with the Interior Ministry.

I remind you that we adopted last year the Federal Law On Citizens’ Participation in Maintaining Public Order. We now need to complete the adoption of similar laws at the regional level. We are especially concerned by the increase in crimes of an extremist nature. There has been an increase of nearly 15 percent. 

Extremists poison society with militant nationalism, intolerance and aggression. The example of our neighbour, Ukraine, shows us what consequences this can lead to.

Last year, as a result of court decisions, eight organisations were recognised as extremist and were closed down. Criminal penalties have been increased for calls to extremism and for a number of specific crimes in this area, including financing extremist activity and organising extremist groups. New anti-extremism provisions have been included in the Administrative Offences Code.

But at the same time, extremists are becoming ever more sophisticated in their action. We see attempts to use so-called ‘colour revolution technology’, ranging from organising unlawful public protests to open propaganda of hatred and enmity in social networks. The aim is obvious – to provoke civil conflict and strike a blow at our country’s constitutional foundations and ultimately even at our sovereignty. It is essential to react immediately to any signals of planned action by extremists and to carry out the necessary preventive work, especially among young people.

I noted that the number of crimes committed by adolescents fell last year, but one in five crimes committed by this category was grave or especially grave, and one in seven young offenders was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the moment the crime was committed. One in four was a repeat offender. 

Juvenile delinquency and lack of parental supervision of children are very closely related issues. More than 30,500 teenagers ran away from difficult family situations last year alone. Circumstances often leave them with little choice but to turn to crime and they often themselves end up the victims of crime.

Clearly, there is a need for new approaches to crime prevention work, including close cooperation with the children’s rights commissioners, the regional authorities and civil society organisations.

Colleagues, you know what difficult tasks our economy faces today. We must make use of everything that can ensure our stable development and put us back on a growth track. The business climate is absolutely crucial in this respect, and in part it depends on reliable guarantees of ownership rights, and that includes preventing raider attacks, that is, preventing attempts to get hold of a business’ assets, shares and property through criminal means.

This places high demands on the Interior Ministry departments responsible for fighting economic crime. The economy must run according to the laws of fair competition. Corruption, tax evasion, and use of other criminal or shady schemes deform the business environment and deprive honest businesspeople of incentives to develop.

In their work to protect the economy from crime, the Interior Ministry’s personnel must be careful to not overstep the law, not abuse their inspection and procedural powers and not interfere with business’ normal operation. Even more so, they must not get drawn into business disputes or corporate conflicts. Punishment for such cases should be firm and irreversible: from personnel to court decisions.

Let me stress once more that the policy of cleaning out all state agencies, including the Interior Ministry, will continue consistently and firmly. The statistics show that the measures we have taken have already helped to bring down the corruption level, but we see from the facts that this problem is still far from being solved, including within the Interior Ministry itself. Last year, around 1,000 Interior Ministry personnel violated anti-corruption laws and some of them were dismissed from their posts due to lack of confidence.

I stress that the Interior Ministry has all the powers it needs to fight corruption effectively. You must continue the work to clean up the ranks regardless of posts held and past achievements. You know that corruption pressure from the law enforcement agencies is a big problem for the economy. We cannot ignore this problem.

Last year, more than 11,000 corruption-related cases were sent to the courts. As in the past, a large number of these cases involved bribes of 500–1,000 rubles. We hardly ever see the courts examine cases involving large and particularly large bribes or corruption carried out by organised groups, as if there were no such cases out there. 

You must keep up the pace too in work to combat the drug business. The scale of the drug business, including new drugs, is a growing danger for our entire society.

Last year, the Interior Ministry and other law enforcement agencies discovered nearly 10 percent more drugs than in the previous year. Around 33 tons of drugs and psychotropic substances were seized, nearly a third of them by Interior Ministry personnel.

To fight this threat, it is important to skilfully combine operations with modern technological capabilities and make greater use of local police officers, and citizens’ volunteer groups and activists, who know the situation in their neighbourhoods well. You also need to keep constant watch on schools, universities and public recreation areas. Drug dealers must not have any access to these places. 

As I mentioned in passing before, you need to work more closely with public organisations. These organisations have plenty of decent people who are concerned by this situation.

Ensuring road safety remains a topical problem. The number of road accidents fell in 2014, and so did the number of people killed or injured. At the same time, the number of road accidents caused by drunk drivers increased by nearly 22 percent – by 21.6 percent to be precise. The number of people killed in such accidents increased by more than 47 percent.

We have a high level of injuries caused by road accidents. Last year, more than 250,000 people were injured on our roads. Clearly, the relevant Interior Ministry departments need to work together with the Healthcare Ministry, Emergency Situations Ministry and other agencies to tackle the full range of issues here. This includes organising traffic and monitoring on the roads, and coordinating the patrol, emergency and medical services. It is not the Interior Ministry’s task, but there is a need to work with the relevant agencies on medical safety throughout the road system in order to ensure that everything needed for emergency medical assistance to accident victims is in place throughout our roads.

We have been able to increase the Interior Ministry’s budget over these last years and substantially increase wages and social guarantees for Interior Ministry personnel and raise pensions for retired personnel. 

We will continue our programme to improve equipment and technical provision, including by buying new types of arms and equipment. Of course, a rational approach is needed here. We have discussed this in detail lately with the Interior Minister and with Finance Ministry officials.

Our possibilities are fewer than they were last year or the year before. As I said, the question is really one of making rational use of these possibilities. I ask the Interior Ministry heads to optimise the services under their responsibility and concentrate human resources on the priority areas and pay greater attention to efficient use of the resources allocated.

In conclusion, I want to wish the Interior Ministry heads and personnel success in their work. I thank you for your work last year.

Thank you very much for your attention.

March 4, 2015, Moscow