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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ustinov Targets Corruption, Courts

Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov on Friday called for the creation of a national program to fight corruption, defended the court that acquitted a teenager charged with slaying a Tajik girl and criticized British courts for not extraditing people wanted in Russia on criminal charges.

Ustinov, who was speaking to the Federation Council, offered few details about how corruption should be fought under a national program, saying only that the adoption of new laws would not "save the situation," Interfax reported.

He also said prosecutors investigated and sent to court more than 24,000 cases related to abuse of office and corruption among officials last year.

Responding to a question from Senator Andrei Vavilov about a St. Petersburg jury's decision earlier in the week to acquit of murder charges the teenager being tried in the stabbing death of the 9-year-old Tajik girl in 2004, Ustinov said, "We do not have any other courts, and they will not fly to us from the Moon." The jury found the defendant and six of his friends guilty of hooliganism in the attack.

"We don't hold a discussion on every court verdict," Ustinov said. "If we begin pressing the courts, it will become even worse."

Ustinov's office, however, has demanded retrials in several other high-profile cases, including the acquittal of Krasnoyarsk physicist Valentin Danilov of high treason charges by a jury in 2003, and the acquittal of military captain Eduard Ulman in the killings of Chechen civilians. Juries have acquitted Ulman twice, in 2004 and 2005.

Then, Ustinov accused British authorities of dismissing evidence submitted by Russian investigators for the extradition of Akhmed Zakayev, a senior Chechen rebel who lives in London as a political refugee.

He suggested that legal matters like evidence were not as important as state interests when it came to extradition cases. He acknowledged that Russia often acted on this premise.

The State Duma, meanwhile, unanimously approved a statement Friday that called on the British government to facilitate the extradition of businessman Boris Berezovsky, who is wanted by Russia on charges of tax evasion, fraud and conspiracy against the state. Berezovsky lives in London and has been granted the status of political refugee.

Duma deputies complained in the statement, addressed to British lawmakers, that Berezovsky had continued "activities aimed at undermining the security of the Russian Federation" from British soil.