Putin Learns about Recent Police Searches from the Media
President’s statements during Middle East visit
“As for the search you just mentioned, and some other things, believe it or not, I only found out about them from the press,” President Vladimir Putin told a reporter in response to a question about the latest crackdown on opposition leaders.
If the searches were carried out in compliance with the law, then there was no problem, but if the police violated any laws, the case should be investigated, he added.
“If someone believes their rights have been abused, they need to file a complaint with the court. I am confident that the court will respond in the proper manner,” Putin said.
Israel and Palestine
Putin seems to believe that a peaceful dialogue is possible between Israel and Palestine:
“I witnessed a desire from our Israeli partners and friends to meet halfway with the Palestinian side, and the Palestinians certainly want to renew peaceful talks but, of course, after adherence to the many agreements that were reached earlier. We specifically talked about how these are not preliminary conditions, they want to see agreements that were reached earlier. What’s most important is that there is goodwill both from the Israeli side and the Palestinian side to move forward. I think that we can be witnesses to this movement,” he said, according to Interfax.
When asked about Israeli President Israel Shimon Peres’ warnings about Iran posing a direct threat to Israel’s existence as a state, Putin said: “Mr Peres is certainly among the most experienced, established politicians in the world. Not just in terms of age, but in terms of experience, first and foremost. If one side makes a statement regarding the possibility and necessity of eliminating the other side, of annihilating it, then that approach is absolutely unacceptable for Russia. We have stated this position many times; it is our fundamental position.” Iranian leaders have previously spoken of the need to eliminate the state of Israel.
The Russian president also hopes that Russia will learn the lessons from Euro 2012.
“I am very much counting on the current leaders of the Russian Football Union to choose a worthy coach for the national team, and then we will be able to prepare for future matches,” he said.
Putin will return to Moscow on Wednesday, June 27 to speak at a Federation Council plenary. He plans to discuss, among other things, a change in the procedure for appointing members of the upper house, and some of the rules regulating interaction within the Russian parliament.
Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov Sues for Dismissal
Speaking at a government meeting held at Military Town No. 12 (Petrovskoye) on June 26, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev strongly criticized Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov for dragging his feet on a financial calculation methodology for handing over military towns to civilian municipalities. The document was originally due to be drawn up and coordinated by June 15.
Addressing Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, Medvedev urged him to identify the people to blame for procrastinating and fire the culprits. Quite unexpectedly, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said it was he who should be dismissed: he had not endorsed the methodology because it was not clear how to hand over a deficit.
As he stated earlier, the shortfall of funds necessary for financing the military towns amounted to 70 billion rubles. In addition, the upkeep money allocated for the first six months of 2012 has already been spent, which makes a complete handover practically impossible.
According to Serdyukov, there are 7,500 military towns overall, of which 1,644 are not used for their intended purpose. Since the Ministry of Defense is short of funds to maintain them, it has volunteered to hand them over to municipal authorities. But the towns are in an unsatisfactory condition and the municipalities are demanding that they be refurbished.
In response to Serdyukov’s dismissal plea, the prime minister ordered the Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Regional Development Ministry to coordinate the methodology within five days. “No further arguments will be accepted,” he said.
According to Kommersant’s source in the Defense Ministry, the Financial and Economics Directorate was instructed on the same day (June 26) to start working on a new reading of the methodology. “But it is hardly possible to create a methodology to cover a 70-billion ruble deficit without falling back on the federal budget,” said the source, adding that its coordination with other ministries could take several more weeks.
Russian Interior Ministry to Co-Finance Creation of DNA Database
The Ministry of the Interior is buying equipment to create a DNA database based on the one in the U.K.
President Putin has approved amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code stipulating DNA testing of all unidentified bodies, with the results to be registered in a database of genomic information. This is expected to significantly increase the crime clearance rate. The Interior Ministry, which initiated the above amendments, is willing to invest 1 billion rubles ($30 million) in DNA analysis equipment.
The law on amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, which covers photographing, fingerprinting and DNA testing of unidentified bodies, was drafted by the Interior Ministry’s Forensics Center last summer. DNA testing is covered in the 2008 law on genome registration, but the Criminal Procedure Code only bans the cremation of such bodies, which leaves open the possibility of testing them at a later date.
The new law should fill this gap. Its authors say that DNA testing is the most effective way of establishing identity. DNA samples will be forwarded to the federal database of genome information, currently under construction, and will also include information about all felons, as well as tissue samples from people who have undergone voluntary DNA testing. This database is being created jointly by the Interior Ministry and the Health Ministry.
The Russian DNA register is being modeled on Britain’s National DNA Database, which was set up in 1995 and now has over 2.7 million DNA samples. Russian Interior Ministry officials said, quoting their U.K. counterparts, that only 13 percent of crimes are solved without DNA analysis, 31 percent with, and up to 60 percent when DNA test results are compared to the DNA database.
The establishment of the DNA database in Russia is being hampered by the cost of DNA equipment and the DNA tests themselves, which cost at least 30,000 rubles (over $900). The Interior Ministry has announced an open tender to supply equipment for DNA laboratories.
The ministry plans to spend over 950 million rubles to purchase eight genetic analyzers, each worth over 8 million rubles, as well as auxiliary equipment, reagents and the like. Many of these materials and equipment need to be transported in special conditions to preserve their properties. For example, reagents must be transported at temperatures ranging between minus 15 and plus 25 degrees Celsius, while sorbents and molecular sieves can only survive at plus 18-25 degrees. Some complex equipment can only be assembled and adjusted by the suppliers themselves.
Lawyer Denis Musaryakov, who used to work as a prosecution investigator and at the Investigative Committee, said they had never had any problems with DNA tests.
“Specialists conducted the DNA tests pretty quickly. It was thanks to their information that we solved the most difficult cases,” he said.
However, the investigation of some crimes, particularly serial crimes, was often hindered by the lack of a DNA database, Musaryakov said, adding that its creation would involve a great deal of money and effort.
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