A total of 44.407 billion roubles /about 1.5 billion dollars/ will be channeled from the budget into a federal programme for the development of the country's judicial system in 2002-2006. This was disclosed on Wednesday before journalists by Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who held a meeting on the evening of that day on the drafting of this federal programme. According to the vice-premier, about 8 billion roubles will be spent on the programme's realisation in 2002. Kudrin said that all the principal differences between ministries and departments on the programme have been removed. Within the next two weeks the programme will be finally edited and then submitted to the government for consideration. According to the vice-premier, the programme mainly concerns the material and technical supplies for courts and judges. It is planned, he said, to pay serious attention to the use of information technologies in the courts. According to his data, only 20 per cent of district courts now have computers. Capital expenditures in the judicial system are expected to reach 6.812 billion roubles. This money will be used to build new court buildings and modernise old ones. Programme developers believe that courts should have special buildings. Next year it is planned to set aside funds for the establishment of a video link between courts and remand houses. This will make it possible to try particularly dangerous criminals by using live transmissions from the pre-trial detention cells. It will also greatly reduce costs of guarding and transporting criminals and increase the security of court staffs, Kudrin noted.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election