Quiet change of law code said to doom crime fight

'Any chance of fighting the mafia in Russia has been lost. Remarkably, it was lost the day after the victory of the 'party of power' in the parliamentary elections of December 2003.' So said Mikhail Delyagin, chairman of the presidium of the Institute for Problems of Globalization, in commenting on the removal from the Law Code of the Russian Federation of an article on the confiscation of property. 'The key to the struggle with organized crime is the ability to confiscate the property of members of organized criminal groups. That possibility has been lost,' he said. Delyagin said government officials aver that confiscations remain a possibility under the Criminal-Procedural Code but that the matter is now covered in the chapter on 'material proofs.' However, Delyagin said, 'the basic part of the most socially significant assets can't qualify as material proofs and can't be taken by the government.' Delyagin said this mistake by jurists bespeaks 'illiteracy.'

In answer to a question from a Rosbalt reporter, Delyagin declined to comment on the degree of the president's responsibility for every paper that he signs, but he did say the president has competent jurists in the Justice Ministry and the Main State Legal Administration. 'But this decision to cancel the article on confiscation of property bespeaks either incompetence or an ulterior motive. Which it is, time will tell,' Delyagin said.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team