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Russian Office of the Prosecutor General Harshly Criticized for Inaction

Campaign launched to dismiss Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov

The "cleansing" campaign at the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department has been going on for two weeks already. The process is not going to settle down, it is gathering pace instead. It has been rumored that something like this will be launched in Russian regions too. Apparently, Russian Interior Minister Boris Gryzlov is not going to stop.

What about other law-enforcement departments? Mass media outlets have not been reporting anything about the Russian EMERCOM of late. Nobody would write or say anything about the Federal Security Bureau (FSB), because it might lead to certain consequences, and there is nothing to criticize this department for. The FSB is not responsible for acts of terrorism in Chechnya anymore, it is good at catching spies, although among Russian scientists. The defense ministry is a different story, there are a lot of subjects to talk about this department, but the ministry is being reformed at present. Any criticism against the defense ministry is  like honey for the Union of Rightist Forces (known as SPS) - they are scoring political points on this issue. There is also the Office of the Prosecutor General, but it hard to have a feedback with this department. It has been criticized on numerous occasions, various failures have been ascribed to the department - unsuccessful extradition attempts, political assassinations, and so on. However, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov does not take any measures to prove the opposite.

Russian human rights activists held a conference on June 21st called "Civil Initiatives To Democratic Parties." They decided that they could not stand the inaction of the Office of the Prosecutor General anymore. They ruled to launch the campaign to dismiss the prosecutor general. The participants of the conference approved a statement, in which it was said that the Office of the Prosecutor General had practically stopped executing law-enforcement functions. It was also said that the office had become a tool of the political struggle with the disagreeable. Finally, conference members think that the office has proved to be totally inactive in front of the growing ultra-national sentiments. The administration of the Office hampers the legal reform, the reform of the criminal law, undermining the notion of a "legal state" as far as Russia is concerned. Human rights activists say, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov is responsible for all of that, they have addressed to public organizations, having urged them to support their initiative.

Rumors about the dismissal of the Russian Prosecutor General have been spreading for quite a while already. On December 9th, 2002, news agencies reported about a sudden hospitalization of the Russian Prosecutor General over an acute heart disease. Competent sources estimated it as a convincing evidence to prove Ustinov's declining authority in the department. Everybody recollected the prosecutor's previous hospitalization in August of 2002, during one of his business trips. Sources said, the two incidents timely coincided with Putin's inclination to dismiss Ustinov. The head of the state was allegedly dissatisfied with the inaction of the Office of the Prosecutor General in the investigation of notorious political assassinations. Extradition efforts did not bring any success at all either (cases connected with former Chechen envoy Akhmed Zakayev and oligarch Boris Berezovsky).

Who is interested in dismissing Vladimir Ustinov? Observers say that Alexander Voloshin, the chairman of the Kremlin administration, is an opponent to the Prosecutor General. Vladimir Ustinov said on January 10th, 2002 that the "number of questions to Voloshin was too large." However, Ustinov had to close five of six cases filed against advisor to the chairman of the presidential administration, V.Aminov. Other observers mentioned deputy chairman of the Kremlin administration, Dmitry Kozak, who had allegedly tried to take the position of the Prosecutor General several times.

On the photo: Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov