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Meeting with Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova

June 10, 2019, The Kremlin, Moscow

Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova presented to the President her annual report on human rights. In particular, certain problems with receiving Russian citizenship, assistance to housing equity holders and families who took out a currency mortgage, and current issues with the criminal procedure legislation were discussed. In addition, the ombudswoman reported to the President on the case of journalist Ivan Golunov.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.

Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova: Mr President, here is the Human Rights Commissioner’s report.

Vladimir Putin: The annual one?

Tatyana Moskalkova: Yes, it is getting bigger and, I hope, deeper with every passing year.

Vladimir Putin: You even have bookmarks.

Tatyana Moskalkova: Yes, I use them to mark appeals ratings. The first one shows the areas in which we have the biggest number of appeals; the second one demonstrates the results of our work and the third contains our recommendations to government bodies and regions of the Russian Federation, which are based on our analysis.

This year we received 38,650 appeals. This is fewer than last year, by almost 4,000 appeals and this is primarily due to the fact that we started using new instruments.

The problems with mortgage holders who took out loans in hard currency, which we asked you to address, were effectively resolved last year with your help. Nearly 7,000 families were able to keep their only housing.

After a special programme was created upon your instruction, a commission was working for almost a year which looked at each borrower individually in order to decide what kind of assistance could be provided.

It is very important, but for the future we should probably understand that the risks for the borrowers who mortgage their only home with a bank should, probably, be shared with the bank, which must realise that in case of repossession the family will be evicted and end up on the street.

Vladimir Putin: Yes.

I see a lot of appeals regarding citizenship.

Tatyana Moskalkova: Particularly many citizenship appeals came from Ukraine, but we have them coming from almost all countries. The fast-track procedure for citizenship relieved tensions, and we are now receiving fewer appeals on this account.

The Baikonur issue was resolved after you intervened and provided support; 185 families received home-buying subsidies.

The big Crimea-related issue has been resolved as well. There, former Ukrainian servicemen found themselves in a situation where their residence permits were cancelled, but your Executive Order helped resolve this situation.

Of course, this has affected the number of appeals. The new instruments that we are using, including video conferencing and on-site receptions, as well as new methods of interaction with the authorities and, most importantly, authorised representatives in the regions, have yielded results.

Vladimir Putin: Still, most questions are about criminal procedure law.

Tatyana Moskalkova: Regrettably, this is true. Indicatively, it is upsetting that against the backdrop of a general reduction in public complaints, many complaints are related to people’s inability to initiate a criminal case.

There are cases where it takes several years to investigate a criminal activity (from two to five years), and then an order to not prosecute is issued and the prosecutor reverses that order, but the investigator fails to follow through. So when a criminal case is eventually initiated, the evidence base is lost.

Other countries have similar problems but have adjusted their criminal procedure codes, including Kazakhstan, Moldova and some other countries that would fail to initiate criminal proceedings.

Once an offence is registered, investigators begin collecting evidence. In other words, they initiate full criminal proceedings. Incidentally, in Russia this system was adopted in 1864 and existed until 1937.

We are launching a comprehensive monitoring today and would like to ask you to support our proposal to revise the process for initiating a criminal case and, in addition to this, also the process for related substantiation of the circumstances of a crime with a view to defending the interests of a victim.

If a criminal case is not initiated, a victim cannot hope for satisfaction, compensation for harm done or a search for those that are liable. Needless to say, this is a violation of the constitutional right to access justice.

Vladimir Putin: The housing legislation, issues related to this area rank second. This year the number decreased slightly. In fact, not even slightly but quite a bit. This number is also much smaller than the year before last.

Tatyana Moskalkova: This number is substantially lower because a lot was done to relocate people from dilapidated and unsafe housing. This year, we introduced a section on the defence of the rights of the Arctic territories for the first time. Unfortunately, this issue remains more current for them.

In many regions the federal programme has produced results and now we are waiting for the implementation of national programmes that may promote this issue.

You raised the issue of defrauded equity holders. I also receive a lot of complaints from these people. Indeed, the measures that you have mapped out will help resolve the issue.


June 10, 2019, The Kremlin, Moscow