Prosecutor General's Office to create major crimes department

Prosecutor General's Office to create major crimes department

Sergey Bochkarev, who led the trial on the billionaire colonel Dmitry Zakharchenko’s 9-billion-ruble property forfeiture to the state is going to head it.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia is going to create a department for priority cases. The order was signed by the head of the department, Yuri Chaika, RBC reports. The prosecutor's office will have ten main offices from now on.

At present, it is a regular administration of the Prosecutor General’s Office with a staff of 55 people that is in charge of major crimes. It will be disbanded as soon as the department is established. It will have 70 employees and include two units: one for particularly important cases of the Investigative Committee and the other with the Interior Ministry and the Federal Bailiffs Service. The new department makes this work more important compared with the regular prosecutor’s work.

According to a source close to the ministry, at present, Vladimir Yudin is the head of the office for major crimes. Yudin, 70, is going to retire, and his deputy, Sergey Bochkarev, will be the head of the central office, the source said.

Sources note that the post of Head of the central board for supervising the investigation of particularly important cases suggests that after a year of successful service, Bochkarev will be given the rank of Lieutenant General of Justice.

Bochkarev, 36, oversaw the process of converting billionaire Colonel Dmitry Zakharchenko’s property worth 9 billion rubles ($137.6 m) into state revenue. As a result of this process, he was promoted to Major General of Justice. Bochkarev also supervised the investigation into the case of the co-owners of Summa group Ziyavudin and Magomed Magomedov.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has repeatedly spoken about the desire of the Prosecutor General’s Office to strengthen control over the investigative authorities. In March, he announced an annual increase in the number of violations committed by investigators: in 2008, it was 535,000, and in 2018 - 1.3 million. According to the Prosecutor General, the heads of the investigative authorities tend not to bring the discussion of violations to a higher level.

In addition, Chaika talked about the “broken balance of powers between the investigators and the prosecutor’s office.” According to the Prosecutor General, it is necessary to return some of the powers to the supervisory authority for a more complete and efficient investigation of criminal cases.

Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about the need to strengthen control over the investigators at the boards of the Prosecutor General’s Office in 2018 and 2019.

He drew the attention of the department’s staff to the not always justified demands of the investigation to take the accused into custody and called for “an extremely responsible attitude to consent for a criminal case to be tried according to a special procedure” when the accused plead guilty and the court does not examine the evidence. Last year, speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko announced the preparation of a draft law aimed at strengthening the powers of the Prosecutor's Office.

Political analyst Tatyana Stanovaya sees the appearance of the new central board of the Prosecutor General‘s Office as a continuation of the long-standing struggle between the department and the Investigative Committee, however, in her opinion, conclusions about the prospects for this rivalry cannot be made. Alexey Fedyarev, Head of the Legal Department of Rus in Prison Foundation, assumes that the reorganization may be connected with the struggle for budgets. According to him, the creation of a new central office “always implies new general posts and staffs.” The supervisory authority has not seen significant staff reductions for the last 20 years, remarks Fedyarov. According to last year's reports of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, Russia has the highest proportion of prosecutors among all Council of Europe states: 25 people per 100 thousand population. This is due to the fact that, unlike other countries, in Russia prosecutors also perform control and supervisory functions. Up to half of the department’s employees work in this area.

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