There is no another judiciary

They say that when Polikarpov, the member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party who oversaw the activities of the Writers' Union, complained to Stalin on writers, their drunkenness and debauchery, Stalin replied: "I don’t have other writers for you, comrade Polikarpov, but I can find another Polikarpov for writers". The next day, the unfortunate was removed.

State Duma yesterday adopted three laws on the establishment of a disciplinary court, a specialized tribunal that will hear complaints against judges and deprive them of authority for disciplinary offences. Decisions will be taken by the panel consisting of an equal number of judges of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Arbitrazhniy Court.

Modern Russia inherited the judiciary from the Soviet Union. The reforms, contrary to some popular misconceptions, brought to judges broad and real independence. The extent, however, to which the judiciary has been able to take advantage of this power for the benefit of society is a matter of debate.

At least half of the Russians believe that the majority of judges are corrupt. Sixty per cent of respondents, fund “Obschestvennoye Mneniye” (Public Opinion) reveals, believe that court decisions are guided not by law but “some other reasons”. Only one in six, according to the Levada Centre, trusts the judiciary.

Historically, Russians are wary of judges, and the opinion of the crowd may be biased. The fact is, the number of court cases is increasing rapidly, which probably is a sign that courts serve, more or less successfully, their primary purpose, administration of justice.

The European Court of Human Rights case of Olga Kudeshkina, a former judge of the Moscow court, highlighted two problems. First, whether the system of dispute resolution within the Russia's judiciary does work. Second, are judges free of administrative pressure?

In 2003 Olga Kudeshkina was suspended from the office. During her election campaign to the State Duma she spoke publicly about the state of affairs in the judiciary and thereby she was accused of violation of the judicial ethics.

Kudeshkina claimed that she was dismissed for failing to follow the instructions of her boss, the Chief of the Moscow Court, in the notorious case of a large-scale customs and financial fraud involving, allegedly, certain high-ranking state officials.

With the fragile majority of 4 to 3 in the judgment, the plaintiff won the case. Yet, the questions raised remain unanswered, and the new laws are a weak attempt to face the problem. Namely, how establish social control over the judiciary, but not suffocate it by depriving of independence.

  

  

October 29, 2009.

  

How establish social control over the judiciary, but not suffocate it by depriving it of independence.