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A bill considerably extending the powers of the Prosecutor General’s Office has been submitted to the State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament. Its author – member of the Federation Council upper house Anatoly Lyskov proposes to create at the supervisory agency a panel of authorised prosecutors that will get the unique right to investigate crimes commutes by high-ranking officials, including the head of the Russian Investigative Committee (SK). The opposition believes that such a “quasi-law enforcement structure” will be under the control of the executive authority branch and will give an advantage to the prosecutor general in the conflict with the SK.
Seventeen super-plenipotent prosecutors will be able to investigate cases against the prosecutor general, chairpersons of the supreme courts, the head of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), speakers of the legislative houses, as well as the former heads of state, RBC Daily reports. Upon the application of any citizen, the chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee who is now practically immune from Russian justice, will also be put on trial.
In an explanatory note to the bill his author – chairman of the Federation Council’s committee on legal and judicial issues Anatoly Lyskov claims that its adoption will make it possible “to create the institute for the prevention of corruption factors and development of political extremism that is based on the exploitation of the slogan on inviolability of the state authority elite.”
It is planned to form the panel for a term of seven years from 17 people: five of them are to be nominated by the president, State Duma, Federation Council each, and two more will be nominated by the Russian human rights commissioner. The main idea of the bill is the possibility to conduct the preliminary investigation against high-ranking officials who are now beyond the reach of the investigation bodies, as well as the former heads of state.
Head of the Efficient Politics Foundation think tank Gleb Pavlovsky, quoted by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, is certain that the document could have appeared only at the initiative of President Vladimir Putin, because among those whose activity will be checked by the panel of prosecutors will be the country’s chief executives: “It is an additional signal to the elite that the head of state does not rule out stepping up the fight against corruption in the top echelons of power. It is also a political signal: Putin wants to discipline his friends the appetites of whom have somewhat overgrown.” On the other hand, the expert says, it is a signal to the general public”: something like we shall fight all kind of corrupt officials. However, there is little practical sense in the law, the political analyst is certain: “If desired, almost any corrupt official will not pass a prosecutor’s check at the level of the municipal prosecutor’s office – there is no need for a special commission for that. Power-wielding agencies in this sense are as crooked as a dog’s hind leg... This is a political signal. Although, if you hang a rifle on the wall, it is not ruled out that in autumn it will fire at somebody.”
“Imagine, what kind of people will be nominated there by the president, State Duma and Federation Council. The people who can fulfil any order,” deputy head of the Duma committee on constitutional legislation Vadim Solovyov told the Kommersant daily. According to him, the attempt to transfer to the Prosecutor General’s Office the authority to deal with special cases “to a certain extent reflects the struggle of the Prosecutor’s Office with the Investigative Committee,” and the creation of such “quasi- law enforcement structures” does not fit the law enforcement system. This sets the top officials apart in a separate group for which “it is necessary to create separate prisons and colonies, as well as a special trial procedure,” believes the Communist party member.
“A special commission is not needed, because it will be ineffective. It will be dominated by the executive branch. One-third of the committee members will be from the president and one-third from the Federation Council, which is also “the executive branch, only a side view,” deputy head of the Duma committee on security, member of A Just Russia party Gennady Gudkov told the publication. According to him, the institute of parliamentary control would work more efficiently.