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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Top Judge Wants Law Making It Easier to Prosecute Officials

Supreme Court chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev has proposed removing legal hurdles that make it hard to prosecute senior officials, including judges and lawmakers.

The proposal appeared to be part of a drive led by President Dmitry Medvedev to clamp down on official corruption.

Prosecutors must apply to a court for permission to start criminal proceedings against certain categories of officials. Lebedev said he had prepared a draft law that would abolish that requirement, Interfax reported Monday.

"I believe that this procedure is completely unnecessary," Interfax quoted Lebedev as saying. "It should be removed from our criminal process."

Critics of corruption in Russia say senior officials, politicians and judges are frequently involved in graft but use their status and power to avoid prosecution.

Medvedev said in an interview last month that he was making the fight against corruption a priority, though opposition politicians say he will struggle to root out a problem so deeply entrenched in society.

A 2007 index of global corruption prepared by Transparency International, a Berlin-based nongovernmental organization, ranked Russia on the same level as Togo, Angola and Indonesia.