President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Kolokoltsev, comrades,
Today, at the expanded Interior Ministry Board meeting, we will asses the results of your 2022 performance and discuss the high-priority spheres on which we need to focus in order to strengthen law and order and more effectively fight crime and other threats to the security and stability of our state.
Statistics show that it was possible to improve a number of important parameters throughout 2022. For example, more crimes are now solved than before. We have repeatedly discussed this issue, and it is important that a certain nascent positive trend has emerged here.
Regarding other positive changes, I would like to mention more active work to facilitate road safety, and law and order on the streets, in public areas and in the transport sector. Interior Ministry officials consistently thwarted attempts by various radicals to destabilise the socio-political situation.
Interior Ministry officers acted bravely and boldly during the special military operation. For example, they helped evacuate civilians from the war zone in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions.
Today, it is important that we make consistent progress, and that we combat crime more resolutely and firmly. Certainly, Interior Ministry officials must always be prepared, and they must be able to respond quickly and efficiently in emergencies.
Comrades, I would like to draw your attention to the following priorities for your future work.
First of all, it is necessary to quickly establish the Interior Ministry’s law enforcement divisions in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. As I said at a recent meeting of the Prosecutor-General’s Office Board, it is also imperative to involve local officials, people who have proved their integrity, reliability and professionalism.
I am also asking you to fully provide the new units with modern special-purpose equipment, information networks and communications systems.
I would like to note that every person living in these regions must feel protected by law and must be assured that Interior Ministry officers will deliver timely assistance. I am asking you to organise this work in such a way that all issues that are of concern to people are resolved as soon as possible.
The fight against crime remains a highly important task. This work must become more effective with every passing year, and it is necessary to achieve more impressive results.
As before, it is necessary to focus on preventing juvenile delinquency. A comprehensive and systemic approach is also highly important here. Consequently, I have instructed the Government and the Presidential Executive Office to draft a comprehensive programme to prevent negative social developments among young people.
The unity and cohesion of our multiethnic society has always been and remains the strength of Russia, helping it overcome any difficulties and any trials; therefore, provocations, illegal street protests or other attempts to shake up society must be promptly suppressed, just like the spread of extremist ideology. Representatives of religious confessions, youth and other public organisations should be more actively involved in this work.
Under sanctions pressure, and most importantly, considering the major development tasks facing Russia, the regions, and all industries that we are currently addressing, areas of work such as ensuring economic security and fighting corruption are of critical importance.
Today Russian businesses operate in complicated conditions. However, they handle serious challenges honourably and ensure the development of the Russian economy.
In my recent Address to the Federal Assembly, I gave instructions to continue system-wide work to decriminalise an entire range of economic crimes. In this regard, it is up to you and parliamentarians, the Government, and the business community to continue improving the law, to eliminate vague, ambiguous language in legal norms, and to ensure more precise legal regulation of economic life in Russia.
Law enforcement practice is also of great importance. Please check whether it is justified to open criminal cases against entrepreneurs. It is often obvious from the beginning that the case has no judicial prospects. Then opening a case is not even necessary as it simply destabilises the work of entire teams and companies. It is absolutely unacceptable.
It is also necessary to ensure that the investigation does not disrupt the work of companies, or cause teams to collapse. Of course, the law must be respected. But you understand what I am talking about. The economy is an extremely important area of activity in general, and today in particular.
I have said many times that criminal procedural measures of restraint that do not involve the actual restriction of freedom should be applied to suspects or those accused of committing economic crimes whenever possible. I am talking about written undertaking not to leave the country, bail or house arrest.
Of course, at the same time we must keep an eye on economic activities and firmly prevent violations, the use of illegal shadow schemes and, of course, the theft of budget funds, primarily those allocated today for the implementation of the state defence order, national projects, demographic measures, import substitution programmes, and business support.
I would like to take a moment to discuss migration, a sensitive topic. The issue is complicated, with many different angles, and it affects all spheres of life: security, demographics, the economy, culture, and social and regional policy; so the approach must also be comprehensive and up-to-date.
What needs to be done? First of all, we need to promptly fine-tune all administrative procedures related to migration, digitise them as much as possible, and make them understandable, clear and accessible. I mean procedures for obtaining citizenship, a residence permit, work permit and other documents.
We need to work closely with our colleagues and experts in the Government and its relevant departments, who have good experience in creating modern, friendly and understandable public services. In turn, I am asking the Government leadership to provide methodological support and overall coordination of work here.
Of course, greater transparency of administrative procedures will make it possible to ensure more effective control over the migration situation in Russia, which is of fundamental importance for national security.
Let me repeat: it is important to consider the migration issue from all angles, considering the long-term interests and goals of Russia’s development; assess which specialists are especially in demand, in which regions and industries, what qualifications they should have, what are the requirements for their education and general cultural level. There are many factors here, and they must, of course, all be taken into account. Today, we have also talked with the Minister of the Interior in the morning. Of course, we need to look at the level of their wages.
Therefore, I am asking my colleagues in the Government, the Security Council, the State Council, the Ministry of Interior and other law enforcement agencies to jointly submit comprehensive proposals to continue improving migration policy, and to work on these issues with the regions and report on the proposed solutions by July 1. Let me emphasise that it is very important that the Government, its socioeconomic wing and law enforcement agencies have common approaches to the problem and a common understanding of the results that must be achieved in their work.
We all know well that migration is connected in a significant way to economic categories, too. The Government either transferred it to the economic wing, or to the Ministry of the Interior… It is important that both the law enforcement component and the economic component fit together, and in order to do this it is, of course, necessary to establish interaction and understand the tasks in this area.
Next, a current objective is to improve road traffic safety. I want to note that over the past ten years, the traffic-related death rate has been nearly cut in half, and, naturally, this is a good result. It is necessary to maintain these positive trends and continue to implement the Road Safety federal project. Special attention should be paid to the technological infrastructure of roads, improving road safety habits, and preventing traffic fatalities and injuries among children.
One of the unconditional priorities of our work is combatting cybercrime. In 2022, the number of such crimes exceeded 500,000 and accounted for one fourth of all criminal offences. It is a striking figure, but it is obviously due to the development of computer technologies.
Yes, new forms of protection from malefactors operating at a distance are currently being introduced, criminal schemes in the information space are regularly exposed. At the same time, it is important to constantly inform citizens about new kinds of cybercrime and teach them how to protect themselves and improve people’s digital literacy overall as well.
Combatting drug trafficking remains the key objective of public safety authorities, and the police handle most drug-related crimes.
It is important to continue taking systemic, aggressive action, not only going after the tip of the iceberg – big and small dealers of this poison – but first of all, to destroy the financial and other infrastructure, identify major organisers, those behind the illegal drug business, shut down cross-border supply channels and underground labs, and look in general for more efficient ways and technical solutions to combat the drug threat, improve coordination on this issue with relevant agencies – the Federal Security Service, the Federal Customs Service, the Federal Penitentiary Service, and the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring – and strengthen international cooperation in this sphere.
In conclusion, I want to thank the leaders and all employees of the Interior Ministry for their dedicated work. In this difficult time, they need to be focused and efficient. Overall, to reiterate, the results are good.
I wish you success. Thank you very much.
Vladimir Putin: I will say a few words in conclusion of this part.
What would I like to note? Preserving the unity of our society, which I spoke about in my opening remarks, is always important, but this task is of particular importance at present. Do you know how to address it, first and foremost? By increasing the level of your professionalism. In no way should arrogance, unprofessionalism, or any kind of injustice be allowed when working with people. This is the most important thing, to begin with. This is the first part.
And the second, of course, is that it is necessary to strictly prevent any attempts by the adversary and their agents to shake up our society in Russia. This activity is a key area of the enemy’s work against Russia. This is obvious. It is clear from the nature of their actions, as well as operational sources. We read these documents, where they set such goals: to destabilise society from the inside.
In this context, the Ministry of the Interior is, of course, facing very serious challenges. But you need to start with yourselves, above all. This is what I was talking about: in no case can you allow any injustices, inaccuracies, or violations of people’s legal rights. This is the first thing I wanted to say.
Now the next issue. You know that the collective West has made systematic efforts to destroy our economy. Nothing worked, and nothing will. But we must not be complacent. We can see that everything that is being done against us was done in hopes of, first of all, a quick result. But those who work against us are also counting on the medium term as well. And here there are certain problems related to the supply of components in high-tech industries, with the cut-off from cooperation, with logistics chains. All this is happening, we can see it. I do not think they can do anything here either.
However, our businesses and the economy are facing many challenges in this regard, including on import substitution, but in a broader sense of this word. We are working on it every day. What we could buy yesterday must now be produced. There are disadvantages here, but also enormous advantages for the economy. Our enterprises, those that organise production, now have to place orders inside Russia. As a result, unemployment, among other things, has reached a historically low level of 3.6 percent.
Here is what I would like to bring to your attention. In no case should you be overly aggressive in your work. It is important to turn around your approaches to the economy and business. Instead, you should be helping people to avoid missteps and offences. Should a violation occur, you should help people find a way out of the situation they are in. I am, of course, talking primarily about honest economic actors.
Finally, one more consideration concerning the new constituent entities. Novorossiya and Donbass are facing different challenges. There are common ones as well, such as forming government bodies, including the Interior Ministry.
With regard to Donbass, for eight years its residents lived in extremely difficult conditions under shelling, and their only goal was to survive. Forming fully operational bodies of government or law enforcement agencies was a challenge, an almost impossible thing to accomplish in some areas. But local residents who are now citizens of the Russian Federation expect everything to be brought back to normal in the regular course of business, and their rights and interests to be protected in an effective, all-encompassing and highly professional manner. This must be done in the usual course of business relying, without doubt, on local personnel. But this work must be brought in line with the applicable legal regulations of the Russian Federation.
Well, some other things that the Minister and I discussed this morning and on our way to this meeting, official business such as issuing passports…Mr Kolokoltsev, I understand there might be difficulties, but I am sure that the Ministry is capable of overcoming them. Please bring things up to standard and do so without delay.
People want to be citizens of our country and want to get their passports. First, the process takes months and people have to spend inordinate amounts of time waiting in line. Who is in charge of this? These people should act responsibly in dealing with this issue. If they do not know how to do it, they need to be taught. If they do not want to, they should be promoted or transferred elsewhere. Get it right. Seriously.
Overall, much has been accomplished by the Ministry over the past year. Thank you very much. All the best.