MOSCOW, February 12 (RAPSI) – More than 14,000 people in Russia have been illegally prosecuted in the past three years, Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika said Wednesday during a session with the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament.

"14,261 people have illegally been brought to justice in the past three years," Chaika said before legislators.

He added that upwards of 4,600 people had been illegally arrested and detained.

"People are being illegally held for years," Chaika said.

He told official newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta in November that more than 5,500 people had escaped unreasonable detention in 2013 thanks to the work of prosecutors.

Motivated in part by the aim to foster greater equality before the law, legislation merging the Russian Supreme and Supreme Constitutional Courts was submitted to parliament for approval. President Vladimir Putin signed the bill into law earlier in February.

Putin urged the imperative of the merger based on the principle of equality before the law. “The courts’ merger will lead the judicial practice in one direction, and will strengthen the guarantees of the most important constitutional principle – equality before the law,” the president said.