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Expanded meeting of the Interior Ministry Board

February 28, 2019, Moscow

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

The meeting focused on the performance of law enforcement agencies in 2018 and plans for 2019.

Before the meeting, the President visited an exhibition of advanced weapon models. He also viewed the stand of the equestrian and tourist police, and briefly spoke to female officers of those divisions. The female officers invited the President to visit them and watch the divisions at work.

* * *

Speech at expanded meeting of the Interior Ministry Board

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers,

Today we are discussing the performance of the Interior Ministry in 2018, the current and long-term tasks, including with regard to the approaches specified in the recent Address to the Federal Assembly.

Speaking about the positive trends in 2018, I would like to highlight the decreased number of crimes, including grave crimes, and improvement of the public order. By the way, public polls also indicate that the share of our citizens who believe the police provides significant help in resolving their issues has been growing over the past years. This is the most important criterion and the most important assessment. It is directly related to your everyday work on the ground and to the operation of local police officers. I would like to add that the number of people familiar with their local police officers is also growing, which is a good and important trend.

Of course, I would like to once again thank law enforcement officers for competent and well-coordinated work during the large-scale events we hosed last year. Naturally, one of them was the FIFA World Cup, which was notable for its high level of security. Many football fans and your foreign colleagues praised the security during the event.

It is important to build on this achievement, working consistently to reduce the crime rate and relying on strict standards and requirements in our daily work, so that the citizens of Russia know that police officers will respond to their pleas for help with understanding and sympathy and that their rights and freedoms are safely protected. All of our positive achievements are the result of hard work by a large number of personnel, including the staff of the Interior Ministry and ministry leaders.

However, we need to pay special attention to some issues. There are many unresolved problems. I will speak about this in more detail.

The law enforcement bodies face a number of challenging tasks, which they must address this year and in the short term. First of all, we must gradually increase the clearance rate. All the available resources, investigative and technical capabilities of the law enforcement bodies must be used towards this end. I pointed this out regularly, at every Interior Ministry Board meeting, yet improvements are taking too long. In 2018, just as in all the preceding years, half of the reported crimes remained unsolved. I ask you to seriously think what practical measures can be taken to dramatically improve the situation.

Another priority is to improve the system of preventing juvenile delinquency. Much has been done to enhance the efficiency and modernise this system. Statistics show that the number of crimes committed by minors decreased by 3.8 percent last year, but the number of crimes committed against minors has increased by 5 percent.

We must continue to closely monitor the so-called risk groups, working together with the social services, teachers, parents and volunteers to clarify each particular situation and promptly react to the attempts to involve minors in crime. Insufficient attention or treating the issue as a formality can break lives and lead to tragedies. Those of our colleagues who are working in this sphere know this very well.

We know that it is a difficult and time-consuming job, yet it must be done, without a doubt. We must consolidate our efforts in this sphere, again reviewing the work of children’s rights commissioners, regional authorities and civil society institutions and joining forces with them to achieve the desired positive result.

In the Address to the Federal Assembly, I talked at length about the problems that are a matter of concern for the business community, including the so-called pressure points in their relations with law enforcement agencies. As you know, the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General’s Office were instructed to carry out a detailed review and propose ways of addressing shortcomings both in legislation and in law enforcement. I expect the Interior Ministry to contribute to this work in meaningful ways.

I know that everyone has their own side of the story, and law enforcement agencies are not an exception. It is not uncommon for their position to be quite reasonable, to say the least. For this reason, what we need are joint positive efforts to improve the business climate in the country. This is crucial for economic development.

In addition, let me remind you that a pilot version of a dedicated digital platform is expected to be launched before the end of the year to enable entrepreneurs to report any pressure they face, and ask for support whenever their rights are violated. I would like to explain that this will not be some kind of an elusive unintelligible system for overseeing developments in law enforcement. This must be an additional tool for the relevant agency and ministry designed to make sure that their top officials are informed about these problems directly instead of information being filtered by the very officials who are more often than not directly targeted by these claims. This can be done effectively, swiftly and without delay with the help of the latest technology.

The Interior Ministry must promptly draft regulations for processing applications from entrepreneurs, just as all other law enforcement agencies. I ask you to work on this task in close cooperation with the business community.

Let me draw your attention to the fact that we do not need another complaint desk with applications buried in paperwork and formal replies. This is not what we need, as I have already said. This must be a mechanism that is effective and operational in terms of protecting the interests of citizens, as well as improving the performance and transparency of law enforcement agencies, enabling them to get rid of dishonest employees, which also happens.

Of course, another important task is to step up the overall efforts to combat corruption. I expect you to come up with new, advanced and effective approaches to identifying and investigating complex and covert types of crime.

Comrade officers, the second most important area of work is fighting extremism. Indeed, in 2018 the overall number of extremist crimes decreased by almost 17 percent, although these crimes were registered practically in every region of Russia in different forms and manifestations.

Law enforcement agencies, acting in cooperation with the public and local authorities, should rigorously thwart the activities of radical groups, avert ethnic and religious conflicts and take resolute measures to identify and bring to justice those who are trying to spread the ideology of aggression, violence and intolerance, including and above all among young people.

In the process, it is important to concentrate on investigating the most dangerous extremist crimes and take into account the legislative changes in this area, in particular, partial decriminalisation of Article 282 of the Criminal Code. Let me repeat, it is necessary to see where the real threat, the real danger is coming from rather than inflate the statistics by counting cases initiated without weighty grounds. But if the grounds are there, get down to work. Do you understand? You should not just watch the water flowing down the river. You must get to work.

Needless to say, in the struggle against extremism, Interior Ministry employees should be strictly guided by legal standards and make the utmost use of civil society institutions, such as religious, public and educational organisations.

Enhancing road safety remains a topical task. Despite certain improvements, the situation on the roads remains complicated. Every day, traffic accidents kill almost 50 people and injure around 600. This is a very high figure. I have already spoken about this at our meetings – this is a tragically huge loss. It is necessary to consistently develop technical means of monitoring compliance with traffic rules, expend the capabilities of automatic and video recording of traffic violations and to set higher requirements to traffic rules exams and issuing of driving licenses.

A few words about one more problem that we have already discussed. Last year rigorous measures were taken to reduce passenger transit accidents. As a result, the number of people killed in traffic accidents through the fault of bus drivers has decreased by 17 percent. This is a good result and thank you very much for this achievement. However, let me draw your attention to the fact that the total number of such traffic accidents has not decreased in the past five years. Please take additional measures in this area.

Countering illegal trafficking remains one of the main tasks for the Interior Ministry. According to statistics, the availability of most dangerous synthetic drugs is growing. This is an alarming trend that needs to be taken into consideration. Apparently, the existing measures are not enough and additional action is required.

It is necessary to suppress drug traffickers, expose organised criminal groups involved in the import of drugs from abroad and their production in the country. When doing this, I would like you to work closely with the Federal Security Service, the Federal Customs Service and other agencies, as well as your colleagues abroad.

Another complex job that requires attention is protecting law and order when it comes to migration. We do take long-term measures when it comes to this but it is important to focus on the current work. With the State Migration Policy Concept for 2019–2025 in place, I would like to stress the following. Any violation of the migration law must be meticulously suppressed. This requires consistent improvement of the quality of migration-related public services and the development of modern migration regulations that would be comfortable for law-abiding people who want to live and work in Russia, respect our traditions, culture and Russian law.

Therefore, I would like to point out that we of course must primarily take care of Russian citizens’ interests when it comes to migration.

I would also like to remind you about the task to simplify visa formalities. I am expecting specific proposals from the Interior Ministry and the other competent agencies.

Colleagues, finally, I would like to thank the senior officials and the personnel of the Russian Interior Ministry for their work. I am certain you understand it all too well that what you do for the country, our society and every person is very significant. A lot in this country depends on your performance. I am certain that you will continue to work efficiently and diligently to achieve positive results.

Once again, thank you all for your work.


Vladimir Putin: Comrade officers, colleagues!

I would like to thank the Minister once again – not for the report, of course, but for your work and the results. Let me thank all of you once again because you deserve it – you have achieved results.

This is what I would like to draw your attention to. Yesterday I discussed this with Mr Kolokoltsev and he noted this now in his report – I would like to return to your work in the economy. This is a very important sphere and you see in what kind of conditions we live and develop, and there is only one effective answer to all external restrictions – to create the best possible conditions for the upsurge of the domestic economy. This is not a departmental task. This is a national, governmental task.

In this context, law enforcement agencies, including and primarily the Interior Ministry agencies, bear special responsibility because you are a key link in this environment in terms of work and the coverage of all problems. Yes, of course, Mr Kolokoltsev spoke about this but if we put it in simpler terms, not the language of a report, he said: Yes, entrepreneurs are largely to blame themselves; they come and complain about each other, and we are compelled to react to this by virtue of the current laws. We are obliged to do this.

Vladimir Kolokoltsev: But they do not turn to the courts.

Vladimir Putin: Indeed, they say they refuse to go to court. Maybe so but they come to us and start complaining and we have to react.

Look at what one has to do, who has to do this and where. I will take the situation with traffic accidents by way of example. Thus, 203,600 traffic accidents were registered in 2012. Regrettably, 27,900 people, that is, almost 28,000 were killed as a result. In 2018, 168,100 traffic accidents were registered. Of course, you understand that some cases might not be duly registered but these are approximately objective facts. Regrettably, 18,200 people were killed on the roads last year. In other words, this is a substantial difference. It is substantial. It is a result, an absolutely obvious result of your work. Almost 28,000 people died in the past against 18,000 last year. This is a tangible difference and I would like to thank you for this once again.

Now on the situation in the economy. Last year, 109,500 economic crimes were reported.

As for road accidents, those who are concerned with them, which is nearly everyone here, and the majority of them have a legal education, know that both drivers and pedestrians can be guilty, yet the bulk of responsibility rests with the drivers. This is because vehicles are a source of increased danger. Legislation places special responsibility on those who handle sources of increased danger, such as cars or rifles.

The same is true of our relations with businesses. We can draw a parallel here. Law enforcement officers bear special responsibility for this, because the state has placed its trust with them. Businesses do not have this responsibility, but you do. This is something you must never forget.

Last year, 109,500 economic crimes were reported, or 4.2 percent more than the year before. But what is the clearance rate? We must take a look at the figures. Businesses request the law enforcement officers’ assistance in dealing with their clients and business partners. But we are adult people. We know that few business people come to you without a personal recommendation. They primarily turn for help to those they know personally, or those recommended to them by their acquaintances or friends, or their shadow partners. Very few come without a recommendation. It is street crime that is investigated without a recommendation, but not economic crimes. We must take this into account.

The law enforcement agencies, those wearing uniforms, the people in whom the state has placed its trust and to whom it has given special rights must never forget about their duties, because these rights, including the right to carry weapons, entail special responsibilities. I would like you to take special note of this.

It is not a request but an appeal. Do you understand me? It is a vital national task. Not a departmental task, but a nationwide task.

Overall, I would like to thank you for your efforts and to wish you every success and all the best.

February 28, 2019, Moscow