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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chaika Calls For Reform Of Pre-Trial Detention

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said Friday that people arrested for minor offenses should no longer be held in the country's overcrowded pre-trial detention facilities.

Chaika told the Federation Council that holding small-time offenders in detention facilities was a burden on the federal budget.

He also said detention facilities faced an overcrowding crisis. In 2004, Chaika said, detainees had an average of four square meters of living space. Today, by contrast, "each inmate in a pre-trial detention facility has just one square meter," Interfax reported.

The number of detainees has increased from 740,000 in 2004 to some 900,000 today, he said, and the numbers keep rising.

"This is happening despite the fact that courts, not the Prosecutor General's Office, issue arrest warrants. Our hope that the number of detainees would decrease after this procedure was introduced has not been justified," Chaika said.

The number of detainees initially decreased after changes in the Criminal Procedures Code that required courts to issue arrest warrants came into effect in 2003 .

Chaika also told senators that the number of crimes solved by law enforcement had dropped to near 50 percent, while the number of crimes grew by 8.5 percent to 3.8 million in 2006.

Chaika singled out the armed forces, where crimes are investigated by a branch of his office, the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office. He said a total of 766 Defense Ministry personnel had died last year, of whom 33 died as a result of hazing incidents. A total of 6,700 servicemen were injured in hazing incidents last year, he said.

The prosecutor general said extremist crimes were also on the rise. The number of such crimes, which include everything from hate crimes to calls for the overthrow of the government, jumped from 153 in 2005 to 263 last year, he said, noting that the situation with racially motivated crimes was "alarming" in St. Petersburg and Voronezh.

Chaika told the upper house that corruption in government -- including law enforcement -- was growing. Police committed 5,500 crimes last year.

The Prosecutor General's Office currently performs multiple functions, including law enforcement oversight in all goverment agencies, the investigation of crimes and prosecution.

A bill backed by the pro-Kremlin United Russia party could restrict the office's powers, however. The bill calls for assigning criminal investigations to a semi-independent agency.

Chaika said revisions were needed in the bill. He said the new agency should assume the investigative functions not just of the Prosecutor General's Office, but of all law enforcement agencies.

The prosecutor general said his office was warning organizers of the Dissenters' March about their legal responsibility for any provocations.