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    Russia's top prosecutor calls for crusade against organized crime

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    MOSCOW, March 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's top legal officer said Friday that the country needed to step up efforts against the organized crime and corruption rampant since the end of the Soviet Union, and that a new state program was needed.

    "The authorities have launched criminal cases against 409 alleged crime bosses over the last year and a half, but only 40 of them have been convicted," Vladimir Ustinov told a session of the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament. "The tiger [Russia's law enforcement system] appeared to be made of paper."

    Ustinov slammed law-enforcement officers for concealing crimes, saying a total of 1,270 policemen and 450 officers had been charged with doing so in 2005. He also criticized police investigators for their low profile, adding that 80,000 officers work as investigators, while far fewer work in better-known security services and drug-enforcement agencies.

    However, Ustinov said he did not support the creation of a federal investigative structure, comprising investigators from all law enforcement agencies, and slammed a law stripping prosecutors of lawmaking rights.

    "I do not understand with whom this right clashed or what 'undemocratic' profile was found in prosecutors' lawmaking activity," he said.

    Ustinov said a draft bill to fight corruption had been regularly voted down by lawmakers, although it had been discussed for several years.

    "However, [the bill] alone cannot solve all the problems. We [Russia] need a state program to fight corruption," Ustinov said, adding that many laws and regulations needed coordinated amendments to fight corruption effectively.

    A total of 24,000 corruption cases were opened in 2005, he said.

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