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Official website of the President of Russia

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Address at a Meeting of the Coordinating Council of CIS Prosecutors-General

June 29, 2000, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: On January 25, 2000, the summit of CIS heads of state officially gave the Coordinating Council of CIS Prosecutors-General the status of an international body of the Commonwealth of Independent States. This is yet another small achievement. Every national Prosecutor-General’s Office considers efforts to protect the legitimate rights and interests of its citizens as a top priority.

Although the whole world is now talking about globalisation, former-Soviet republics have been facing the problems of globalisation for a long time. After all, globalisation amounts to unification, the abolition of national borders and the free movement of goods, people and capital. All this creates problems for the law-enforcement field because criminals are also taking advantage of all these achievements. Prosecutors are also finding it more difficult to work in such conditions.

Concerted action is the only way to cope with these problems. Protecting the legitimate rights and interests of citizens is the main task of national prosecutor-general offices; however, this objective cannot be accomplished when there is free movement, an absence of borders and visa regimes in the former Soviet Union unless we harmonise national legislations. How can we do this without effective means of communication? How can we defend our countries and state bodies from crime, be it drug-related or economic crime, or terrorism? But it is impossible to do this unless national law-enforcement agencies work together.

This is why I sincerely and wholeheartedly wish you every success because the future of the CIS and the well-being of every CIS citizen will largely depend on the effectiveness of your joint work.

Crime knows no borders, all the more so because CIS countries are not separated by any borders. Prosecutor-general offices, which are part of society and the state, often find themselves in a difficult situation because everybody demands everything from them. This can be explained by the fact that they must achieve important professional and political objectives and because their performance is assessed by Russians as well as foreign citizens and governments. They are supposed to enforce law and order and to take political decisions.

In some cases, society either demands compliance with the law or begins to ask questions which do not apply to democratic institutions. For instance, people sometimes question the actions of prosecutors-general, regional prosecutors and investigators who issue arrest warrants or conduct searches, and hint that they have no right to do so.

It appears that society will stick to these double standards for a long time to come, unless the Prosecutor-General’s Office and law-enforcement officers abide by the law and show due respect for it. Society will eventually have an incentive to accept this legal culture. However, this process will require a lot of time and effort, as well as persistent work, professionalism and courage, to complete.

I wish you every success. Thank you.

June 29, 2000, Moscow