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Meeting on liberalisation of criminal law

October 21, 2010, Gorki, Moscow Region

Dmitry Medvedev held a meeting to discuss a draft law on the liberalisation of criminal law before submitting it to the State Duma.

Amendments are being introduced to the Criminal Code to change the punishment for a number of minor offences from imprisonment to a fine or community work.

The President noted that such a measure will enable courts to use an individual approach in sentencing and impose a more fair punishment.

The meeting was attended by Presidential Aide and Head of the Presidential State-Legal Directorate Larisa Brychyova, Presidential Aide and Head of the Presidential Control Directorate Konstantin Chuychenko, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov, Deputy Prosecutor General and acting chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Alexander Bastrykin, and First Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman.

* * *

President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Some time ago we agreed to continue our efforts to improve the criminal law. The underlying assumption is that the criminal law in our country should be on the one hand, totally modern, and on the other it must be effective, while at the same time reflecting and protecting the interests of the state, the public and the individual. Criminal punishment should be appropriate to the severity of the offence. This is an important factor in the development of a law-governed state.

Today I would like to talk about what we have achieved recently and what still remains to be done.

What major milestones have we had in the past two years? A number of amendments have been adopted but I will not dwell on them specifically as you are all aware of these changes. As the subsequent criminal procedure practice has shown, certain types of punishment that do not involve imprisonment, as well as suspended sentence, can be quite effective in the correction of criminals when imposed for crimes that do not pose a serious danger to society. We will continue our efforts in this direction too.

As we agreed, per my instruction the Justice Ministry has prepared a new draft Federal Law On Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

It is proposed to exclude imprisonment as a lower limit punishment for the 68 offenses that are contained in the Criminal Code. This is a fairly radical measure, but it should allow the court to use an individual approach when sentencing, and therefore, the punishment could be more fair. Of course, the character of the accused must be taken into account and he or she must be sentenced to imprisonment only if the offense poses a serious danger to society.

In addition, this draft law will give courts a wider choice in sentencing that does not involve imprisonment. In this context, punishment for eleven categories of offenses has been supplemented by fines (as a principal form of punishment), and for twelve categories of offences by community work. In 118 offences, the lower limit of the punishment as community work or arrest has been removed altogether.

Law enforcement bodies, ministries and agencies are familiar with the law and in general, the concept meets with their support. At the same time there are some ideas I would like to discuss with you today, before this draft law is submitted to the State Duma.

I would also like to thank the experts who commented and gave their suggestions, which will be taken into account in finalising the draft.

Let us get to work and go through the individual offenses.


October 21, 2010, Gorki, Moscow Region