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7 Sep, 2009 10:12

Medvedev demands tougher punishment for mafia

Punishment should be tougher for members of criminal gangs in Russia, especially their leaders, said President Dmitry Medvedev, who met with the country's internal minister to discuss a draft criminal law.

The legislation proposes increasing jail terms by up to 20 years or even life for heads of organized criminal groups, Inferfax news agency reports.

“I would like to call the attention of your law enforcement colleagues and you. There will be major changes in the description of criminal groups and stricter punishment of crime lords,” the President said.

The amendments have been discussed at several conferences, Dmitry Medvedev said, and the debates made the Russian authorities change their approach towards the issue.

“For instance, individuals who operate in the background but coordinate the activity of criminal groups must be punished more strictly,” he explained.

The President believes the stricter punishment of organizers will increase the efficiency of law enforcement.

Intenal Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev confirmed that the amendments are of prime importance for his ministry and for the country as a whole.

“Plenty of criminal groups have been exposed in recent years. As a rule, only perpetrators are tried, and organizers either stay unnoticed or receive a suspended sentence,” the minister said.

“We have been expecting the amendments for a long time. Judging by the police work, this is the correct way to suppress organized crime,” he added.

The draft will be debated later by the country’s State Duma.