President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin will attend a grand meeting dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the Russian Supreme Court. The event, which is to take place in Moscow's Hall of Columns on Friday, will gather chairmen of Russia's Constitutional and Supreme Arbitration Courts, heads of law-enforcing ministries and establishments, chairmen of the federal courts of Russian Federation members, and representatives of both of the parliament's houses, the State Duma and the Federation Council.
The Supreme Court is Russia's highest judicial authority, which handles civil, criminal, administrative offences and other infringements within the competence of general jurisdiction courts.
The history of Russian justice authorities began in the remote past. The prototype of the Supreme Court, the Governing Senate, was set up on March 5th, 1711 by decree of Peter I and consisted of a chief secretary and nine members of the tsar's entourage.
In the Soviet times, the Supreme Court was founded in accordance with the Provisions of the Judicial System of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, adopted at an Oct. 31, 1922 session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and put into effect on Jan. 1, 1923. The Supreme Court of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was set up in 1924.
A new stage in the system of Russian justice began with the declaration of independence and sovereignty of the Russian Federation and the beginning of the judicial reform. The 80th anniversary of the Supreme Court coincides with the near-completion of the judicial reform, the putting into effect of new codes of criminal and civil procedure, further perfection of the judicial system, and solution of many organizational and material-and-technical issues dealing with court matters.
Today, Russia has more than 2,500 general jurisdiction courts of various levels, which employ more than 20,000 judges and more than 42,000 staff workers. In 2002, 3,000 more judges were employed as Russia introduced approval of arrest and other investigative actions.
The putting into effect of the new codes "widened the jurisdiction of the federal courts," as Chairman of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev put it. In 2002, general jurisdiction courts considered 5 million civil cases, more than 1 million criminal cases, and more than 380,000 administrative disputes.
According to Lebedev, the introduction of new norms /such as court's approval of arrest/ and the abolition of additional investigation reduced the number of prisoners and people kept in investigatory isolation wards.
Lebedev praised the work of magistrates, who considered 2,300,000 civil and more than 600,000 criminal cases over the past year. He also said there had been more work for courts-martial, which considered 10,500 criminal cases and settled 114,000 civil disputes.
In 2003, the Russian Supreme Court will be paying special attention to the work of courts that involve juries. During the year, juries will be introduced in 60 members of the Russian Federation, where they will consider at least 50% of criminal cases involving major offences.
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