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Acting President and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took part in an expanded meeting of the Ministry of Internal Affairs board

January 21, 2000, Moscow

Mr Putin said that crime was a direct threat to Russia’s security, and the Interior Ministry had so far failed to tackle increasing crime rates.

The acting president urged the ministry to make the fight against organised crime and corruption a priority of law enforcement efforts. He said that a great deal of hard work had to go into fighting crime, especially in the economic sphere, and warned against groundless inspections of companies, banks and other organizations. Such measures did not produce the desired effect but were extremely labour consuming and interfered with the working process, he said.

Mr Putin highlighted protection of the individual, and citizens’ rights and freedoms as basic law-enforcement principles.

In that connection, the acting president focused on combating terrorism. He did not rule out the possibility of more terrorist attacks in Russian cities. As he pointed out, last year’s explosions in residential buildings followed the defeat of terrorists in Dagestan.

Current developments in the North Caucasus resemble last year’s as the operation against militants in Chechnya has come to a final stage. This means, Mr Putin said, that they may carry out more terrorist attacks. He called law enforcement officers to concentrate on warding off the impending threat.

He thanked the law enforcement officers who were involved in the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya and had started establishing security related services there.

As he came to the current social and political situation in Russia, Mr Putin said apprehensions of a dictatorship and an “iron hand” were groundless. Authorities should not do anything to foment public phobias, he said.

Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev, Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev, Justice Minister Yury Chaika and acting Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov attended the meeting.

January 21, 2000, Moscow