ROAR: “Independent investigative body should not turn into corrupt monster”

The creation of a single independent investigative body has its pluses and minuses, politicians and analysts warn.

President Dmitry Medvedev has given the government two weeks to finalize the draft law on police. He stressed that the law should be adopted in the near future as part of the reform of the Interior Ministry.

Speaking at a meeting on law enforcement issues on Thursday, Medvedev also summed up the results of the first ever nationwide discussion of a draft law on police.

The media, which have also discussed the draft law, are now focusing more on another Medvedev’s decision – to create an independent investigative body.

The new law enforcement agency will be created under a presidential decree on the basis of the existing Investigative Committee (SKP) of the Prosecutor General's Office, Medvedev said at the meeting.

The committee’s chief, Aleksandr Bastrykin, supports the proposal. “Interdepartmental barriers inevitably emerging in case of alternative investigative jurisdiction will be lifted,” he told Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily. The establishment of a single investigative body “would make the investigation procedure more controllable,” he noted.

However, many commentators wonder if this will actually be the case.

Medvedev’s statement about the establishment of the investigative committee on the basis of the present SKP became the main sensation of yesterday’s meeting,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily said.

This body may report directly to the head of state, the paper noted. The corresponding draft laws are expected to be submitted to the parliament in the near future. At the same time, Medvedev made it clear that investigative bodies of other law enforcement agencies, including those the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service would remain independent for the present.

The head of the State Duma’s Legislation Committee, Pavel Krasheninnikov, described the decision as “absolutely correct.” But he said that investigative bodies of other law enforcement agencies “should be disbanded as well, and all inquiries must be conducted by one independent investigative committee.”

The time of its establishment will depend on when the law on police will be passed, the deputy told Interfax agency.

Gennady Gudkov, a State Duma deputy from the Fair Russia party, noted that SKP has not reported to the Prosecutor General’s Office for a long time already. The unification of investigative departments of different services into one body would be “a political move,” he told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

“But if there are no mechanisms of the parliament and civil control, if we do not look into the balance of authorities and control functions of Prosecutor General’s Office, then [the new body] will be a corrupted monster,” Gudkov told the paper.

Some representatives of the Communist Party, however, spoken against the decision. Viktor Ilyukhin, deputy head of the Duma’s Security Committee, recalled that the discussion on such agency was conducted in the Soviet Union 30 or 40 years ago.

Then it was decided not to raise this issue,” he told the daily. “But now this question has emerged again. Many consider this a panacea for all problems and think that it will increase the quality of investigation and guarantee the observance of rights and freedoms of Russian citizens, but they are wrong.”

Increasing professionalism of investigators should be the main task now, Ilyukhin said. “And the work of expertise services has become a chink in our armor,” he added.

Also, this political decision will not solve contradictions between law enforcement agencies, the deputy said. “There will be more conflicts between the single investigative service and the Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service and Prosecutor General’s Office,” he warned. And if the new body reports directly to the president, “then how will the prosecutors’ control be conducted?” he asked.

According to Kommersant daily, the idea of the establishment of the new body belongs to Bastrykin, and the present Investigative Committee has prepared the draft law. Its current structure and personnel may be retained as well, the paper said.

The reform of the investigation and supervision over it should be conducted synchronously, Vladimir Vasilyev, the head of the Duma Security Committee, told the daily. At the same time he is certain that there would be “no global problems” with the creation of the new body.

However, even now prosecutors have no functions of supervision over the process of investigation, lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov told Vedomosti daily. After the creation of the new agency, the existing competition between services may disappear at all, he stressed.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT