Chairman of the IPA Russian Section Supervisory Board, Co-Chairman of the Association of Lawyers of Russia, Colonel General Sergey Stepashin believes that it is possible to deal with new technological challenges from organised crime by building friendly relationships between police officers from different countries.

And here the International Police Association (IPA) is one of the most significant structures that can build these relationships. More than half a million people from 69 countries are members of the Association, both retired and serving police officers.

President of the IPA Russian Section, Lieutenant General Yury Zhdanov recalls one of the brightest moments of joint work with Sergey Stepashin in the Ministry of Internal Affairs – the first Conference of Interior Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) member states in the history of this authoritative international organisation.

It was held on the proposal of Sergey Stepashin in November 1998. Russia then initiated and co-organized this conference. Previously, the dialogue had been conducted only within the framework of meetings of Prosecutors General and Ministers of Justice of the CoE member states.

The November conference was also attended by Secretary General of Interpol Raymond Kendall, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Daniel Tarshis and ministers of internal affairs of about 40 states.

Yury Zhdanov was one of those who accompanied Sergey Stepashin at this international forum and witnessed how the attitude towards Russia from our Western colleagues had changed for the better.

The conference served as an important contribution to the decision on the subsequent admission of Russia as a full member of this authoritative international organisation.

Why did the famous Russian statesman and military commander, Colonel General Sergey Stepashin became Chairman the Supervisory Board of the All-Russian Police Association and how does he see its development?

Yury Zhdanov believes that the answer to this question is obvious: as a real politician, Sergey Stepashin saw a development perspective in the International Police Association. And as a statesman – the benefits of this development for our country. Of course, he supported this project.

One has to keep in mind that Sergey Stepashin, the former Head of the Russian Government, who once directed the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, knows firsthand the problem of crime-fighting.

He understands that it will definitely be impossible to solve this problem by building walls of separation, as the Americans are trying to do. It will be way more useful to build bridges between police officers from different countries.    

The Police Association, in his opinion, is one of the most significant ‘building structures.’ A lot, if not everything, can be solved on this negotiation platform.

By the way, until recently, not everyone in Russia had been familiar with the International Police Association. Actually, it became well-known only after the election of Yury Zhdanov as President of the Russian Section in 2018.

According to Yury Zhdanov, Sergey Stepashin’s experience is in demand today, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever. In 1999, Sergey, together with Yevgeny Primakov, led the country out of a deeper crisis.

Do you remember [Russia’s financial] default [of 1998]? After all, they somehow got out of a seemingly catastrophic situation. Right at that time the economies of many quite prosperous countries were collapsing.

Now everything is not so tragic, although many things have become more complicated. Sergey Stepashin, of course, is not God Almighty. There is no panacea from all misfortunes. But every time Yury Zhdanov, in conversations with Stepashin, becomes convinced that we will get out of the crisis.

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Sergey, as a true optimist, you claim that all the most difficult things will begin later, when we start correcting mistakes. When we start dealing with the consequences. What are the mistakes? After all, no one expected such a blow; everything was going, in general, well…

Mr Sergey Stepashin: That is the point. They were relaxed. It actually was possible to foresee some nuances, including trends in crime-development.

Mr Yury Zhdanov: Is it like in the notorious ’90s?

Mr Sergey Stepashin: Including that period. Then, after all, there were also moral and financial losses, enterprises were closed, people lost their jobs. As then, money quickly ran out. Tension in society began to increase. Banditry and nationalism began to flourish.

But today the government is not at a loss, as it was in the '90s. The police and intelligence services are working hard. Look at the organisation and efficiency of decision-making. New hospitals are being built in a fantastically short time, many medical institutions are being converted.

Full mobilisation of doctors, law enforcement agencies and the army. In principle, the society understands these measures. It is clear that the resource is not infinite. The most important thing will begin after the completion of the formal quarantine.

Mr Yury Zhdanov: What is to expect?

Mr Sergey Stepashin: The national economy must be restored in many sectors. Here we need non-standard schemes of support, lending, expanding state orders for public requests, introducing deferrals of loan payments, possibly changing the tax system.

However, the main thing is to maintain controllability because the degree of turbulence will be high. This is understandable. But controllability does not mean tightening the screws, perhaps on the contrary – their loosening in some areas. The main thing is to avoid confrontation, reduce tension and prevent excesses.

Mr Yuri Zhdanov: Can you make any forecasts for the future?

Mr Sergey Stepashin: Of course I can. On the one hand, the future projections are not very bright regarding the crime situation. This has always happened in the post-crisis period. The circumstances are obvious: impoverishment of people, hyperexcitability on the verge of despair, hopelessness for many.   

Of course, I am sure that we will resolve the situation. But the question is how the police forces, especially after the gruelling service during these months, will get the strength to handle everything. People will simply get tired; besides, they – both officers and privates – will accumulate personal problems. Just like everyone else. And the question will arise – to give up on everything and leave. Or to give up on everything and stay.  

Such a situation was already in the '90s. They were throwing their police I.D. cards and leaving. The negative balance of those dismissed and accepted was two and in some places three times. Not the worst ones were leaving. Here it is necessary to recall the ill-conceived reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which 'drained out of blood the earth.'

How can a district police officer working alone in a dozen villages and towns control the situation? Plus, millions of migrants without work, without means of livelihood, who cannot go home (frankly no one is waiting for them there without money). This is a powerful explosive force. What if the emissaries of ISIL reign in the places of their compact residence? This is a serious problem. A very serious one!

On the other hand, this is a list of tasks for correcting mistakes and solving problems. The President of the Russian Federation spoke about these tasks with ministers and governors at a recent meeting.

Mr Yury Zhdanov: What tasks does the IPA Supervisory Board, which you preside over, set for itself in this situation?

Mr Sergey Stepashin: I think that the Supervisory Board should monitor the IPA activities so that we do not go beyond the normative legal acts adopted in this area and do not violate Russian legislation.

The members of the Board will participate in meetings at which the most important and topical issues of the life and activities of the organisation should be considered.