President Dmitri Medvedev is calling for
constant police monitoring to maintain social order in Russia amid growing
unemployment and crime linked to the global economic crisis. Mr. Medvedev is
also warning law enforcement officials to fight crime instead of harassing
Speaking to hundreds of law enforcement officials at the
Interior Ministry in Moscow, President Medvedev said growing unemployment could
exacerbate crime in Russia.
Mr. Medvedev says the main task for law
enforcement is paying more attention to social order, because Russia finds
itself in a rather complicated situation influenced by the global economic
crisis, which has increased unemployment and the country's other social
problems. As a result, says the Kremlin leader, individuals seek to take
advantage of the situation, adding that police should not allow it to become
more complicated than it already is. He proceeds to task law enforcement with
monitoring the situation throughout the regions of Russia and the country in
The nationwide Moskovskiy
Komsomolets newspaper reports shoplifting is spreading among Russia's
unemployed. Grocery stores are also being hit, and in some cases, individuals
are reported hiding out of view of surveillance cameras to eat food on the
premises. The newspaper says the number of daily shoplifting arrests in Moscow
in January averaged 21, one-third higher than the same period two years
Police last weekend were called out en masse in a number of Russian
cities to monitor anti-government demonstrations sparked by economic
difficulties. Most were poorly attended, with police outnumbering demonstrators,
but about 3,000 people participated in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok.
President Medvedev also alluded to corrupt officials who make money by
shaking down legitimate entrepreneurs.
The Kremlin leader says much has
been said recently about preventing bureaucrats from interfering in business,
especially small and medium-size firms. He warns law enforcement that they
should only conduct searches if there is official notice of wrongdoing and
within the framework of a criminal investigation.
Russian bureaucrats and
police are widely accused of blackmailing legitimate business, based on random
searches and trumped up charges.
President Medvedev says police should
also combat growing crime by foreign workers. Millions of them came to Russia in
recent years from impoverished post-Soviet states to do menial work. Many of
those migrants are not only losing their jobs during the current crisis, but are
also being attacked, even killed, by nationalist groups who blame foreign
workers for driving down wages and taking jobs away from Russians.