Moscow Marshals Criticized

ReutersMarshal Olga Kulsha taking notes at the apartment of a debtor for municipal services in Krasnoyarsk on Friday.
The country's top court marshal on Friday criticized his subordinates in Moscow for doing too little to crack down on delinquent debtors.

Federal Court Marshals Service chief Artur Parfenchikov said the service's Moscow branch last year was the worst-performing branch in the country's 83 regions.

The Moscow branch is currently handling 600,000 cases, five times less than the amount it should be handling, Parfenchikov said, Itar-Tass reported.

More than 100,000 court-ordered confiscations of debtors' property have not been carried out in Moscow, he said.

"Last year was the 'Year of Family,' but more than 200 criminal cases were opened [in Moscow] over recovery of alimony," Parfenchikov said.

In the Pskov region, whose population is just 600,000 compared to Moscow's 11 million, 500 criminal cases were opened last year for failure to pay alimony, he said.

Over the past year, Parfenchikov's agency has been seeking expanded powers that would allow marshals to conduct investigative searches for debtors, confiscate driving licenses and imprison for a year people late on alimony payments.

Currently, the marshals' main weapon is their authority to put debtors on a blacklist preventing them from leaving the country. The rule applies to both Russian and foreign debtors.

The agency currently employs about 60,000 people, and President Dmitry Medvedev last week ordered another 20,000 to be hired, Interfax reported.

Curiously, Parfenchikov said the branch in Moscow -- by far the country's richest region -- was one of only two nationwide where marshals prefer to use pen and paper rather than computers. The other is in war-scarred Chechnya.

"Chechnya is wrapping up its staff [computer] training, while in Moscow there is not the slightest hope," he said.