The congress is taking place on November 29 – December 1 at the State Kremlin Palace, with over 800 delegates representing the entire judicial system of Russia.
The National Congress of Judges, the supreme body of the judicial community, analyses the state of affairs in the Russian judicial system and issues resolutions concerning its further development.
The 10th National Congress of Judges is dedicated to reviewing amendments to the Code of Judicial Ethics and selecting new members of the Council of Judges, the Higher Qualification Board of Judges and the Higher Examination Commission for the judge qualification exam.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
I would like to welcome all delegates and guests to this National Congress of Judges.
As the supreme body of the judicial community, the national congress will, as usual, discuss the most topical and pressing issues.
Certainly, resolving these issues is most relevant for the judicial corps; however, all your work is directly related to protecting the rights, freedoms, legal interests and dignity of our citizens. The fates of people literally depend on the professional and personal qualities of each and every one of you. Therefore, all of society places great demand on judicial work.
Searching for solutions to these demands and expectations is essentially the main goal of all judicial congresses, and this year’s event should focus on further improving the effectiveness, quality, fairness and accessibility of justice.
I realise that there are still plenty of challenges, but reflecting on the decisions made by this congress in the past, we can see their colossal impact on the development of the judicial system and case hearing practices.
I am confident that this tenth congress will contribute to enhancing justice in Russia. Your discussions, conclusions and final documents are important for the legislative and executive branches, for attorneys and law enforcement agencies, for legal research organisations and for the entire Russian legal community.
While holding the congress, we are almost simultaneously marking the 100th anniversary of establishing the Supreme Court of Russia, which became the first independent supreme judicial body in our country’s history. Its activities had tremendous significance for the state and society, including at complicated historical stages.
For example, the Supreme Court played a leading role in formulating the judicial reform concept that was adopted in 1991 and that determined the development paths of the judiciary branch as an independent and influential force in Russia’s state system.
The Supreme Court and the judicial community became actively involved in implementing the reform. They did a lot to create a new legislative framework for the judicial system, to strengthen guarantees of judicial independence, and facilitate controversial and public trials and court proceedings and the rule of law in general.
As you know, the judicial system continues to develop all the time, as required by life itself, its rapid changes and key events, and the Supreme Court invariably responds to new contemporary challenges and the demands of Russian society.
One has every reason to say that the Supreme Court is marking its 100th anniversary with significant results. I would like to thank its leadership, judges, members of its staff and retired employees for their intensive work, the great responsibility that they display and for their professionalism.
Since the 9th Congress of Judges, we have implemented measures that have considerably enhanced the prestige of the judiciary branch at a time when our courts still have to review many cases. In 2021, first-instance courts tried over 39 million cases. The Supreme Court President [Vyacheslav Lebedev] will certainly talk about this later on. In the nine months of 2022, Russian courts reviewed over 30 million cases.
It is important that Russian courts continued to work as usual during the pandemic (I have already noted this in public). This did not happen in all countries, but Russian courts worked in precisely this manner.
I would like to specifically note the social aspect of the justice system. This year, the courts have granted 95 percent of claims concerning backdated wages, 53 percent of claims concerning reinstatement of employment and 84 percent of claims concerning consumer rights protection. I believe that in the future as well, these matters will require the same close attention you have given them in the past.
The Supreme Court of Russia consistently pursues a course for broader administration of punishment alternatives to prison sentences, and pre-trial restrictions other than placement in custody. Between 2016 and 2021, the total number of convicted individuals dropped by 22 percent, and the total number of individuals sentenced to prison terms has decreased by 19 percent.
We are taking measures to humanise criminal liability for economic crimes. Over the ten months of this year, the courts have heard 5,000 economic crime cases involving 5,500 individuals. The courts convicted 3,500 people and dismissed criminal cases against 2,000 people. Real prison sentences were given to 9 percent of the convicted. These are actual numbers. Pre-trial detention was ordered for 262 citizens.
I should add that the judicial community plays a major role in strengthening the business climate in the country. The courts always pay attention to cases concerning businesspeople as they are often complicated, confusing and therefore require comprehensive, in-depth examination.
The court rulings concerning economic matters are extremely important as they largely determine the stable operation of entire organisations, corporations and teams.
I also want to stress that in general, the challenges and threats that the country has been facing cannot serve as an excuse for a superficial or accusatory approach during court proceedings, investigative and other legal procedures. Our citizens' rights and freedoms are guaranteed by the Constitution and are inviolable ‒ we must never forget this.
In this context, I believe it is important to say that establishing 16 new courts of appeal and cassation courts of general jurisdiction has fully proven its value, in terms of better guaranteeing the rights of citizens during court proceedings and in terms of more thorough detection and prompt correction of miscarriage of justice.
I want to point out another important step in developing our judicial system. The legislation on the status and organisational support of magistrate judges has been updated substantially as of late, to unify the legal status of federal court judges and to secure the principle of tenure among magistrate judges.
The law also regulates interaction between regional councils of judges and regional government bodies, which is important for budgeting the activity of magistrate judges in the regions.
I want to stress the relevance of adopting modern information technologies by the judicial system. Information technologies makes it possible to attend court hearings remotely, review case materials and receive documents in electronic form. I saw how this works when I visited the Chair of the Supreme Court. But I would like to emphasise that, in addition to making the administration of justice more convenient for the parties involved, using such technology must ensure that citizens and legal entities are guaranteed the right to high-quality and fair judicial defence.
Today I want to particularly emphasise the significance of the work performed by regional and district courts in recognising incidents of genocide against civilians during the Great Patriotic War. We continue to collect evidence of the atrocities and crimes committed by the Nazis, and every piece of evidence must be given legal and judicial assessment.
Now, you know that, as voted by millions of people in the referendums, Russia has incorporated four new constituent entities, the Donetsk People’s Republic, the Lugansk People’s Republic, the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. Federal courts will be established on these territories. The Supreme Court and other judicial bodies will supervise this enormous work, build panels of judges and integrate the new courts into the Russian judicial system.
This is a serious amount of work, the selection of the courts’ staff, including judges and court workers, the construction of new buildings and the procurement of equipment and technology for the courts’ activities. We have to accomplish this as soon as possible so that people living in these territories can enjoy their constitutional right to judicial protection. I am confident that you will accomplish these tasks.
You have chosen a very difficult, stressful and highly responsible career that requires deep knowledge, the ability to focus, competence and a high procedural culture. It requires you to set a positive example in your work and life because people always look at judges closely. I realise that it is not always easy to meet such social expectations because you are always in the centre of conflict and dispute, and you work in an atmosphere where emotions heat up to extreme levels. However, you must display restraint, respect and attention to everyone involved in a court session.
Each of you is a key court figure. The state has vested you with special powers, and the quality of justice and the prestige of the country’s judicial branch depend on your work, your moral values and precepts, on your understanding of the dignity of your mission. Thus, when people go to court, they will trust it and will feel confident that they can obtain a legitimate and equitable decision, and that unbiased, honest and incorruptible people will administer justice.
I am confident that our judges will always meet these extremely high standards, and that the state will always do its best to adequately evaluate your work. The State Duma is now reviewing a bill that makes it possible to promote judges who have made a substantial contribution to the administration of justice and who have especially distinguished themselves within the judicial system. In other words, judges could be promoted to higher categories than their current positions. I believe that the approval of this bill would also promote the professional improvement of judges, and enhance and strengthen their status.
In conclusion, I would like to wish you every success in your work and all the best.
Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
Here is what I would like to say to close this part of your work.
The economy is based on the railway and road network, the energy system in the broadest sense of the word, including power generation and gas supply, to name a few, and the financial system, which is the lifeblood of the economy that ensures capital flow throughout the economy and between individuals. This also includes the manufacturing industry, and all of that taken together makes it possible for the country to properly address social issues, to ensure an adequate level of material well-being for the people and the security of the state.
Then there is the spiritual sphere and culture. In the spiritual sphere, customary laws are widely used, that is, traditions that are passed down from generation to generation, although this also has its own charters and written rules.
One way or another, these relations, including relations between people and relations between citizens and the state, or the participants in economic activity, are ultimately regulated by law and legal norms.
However, the use of these standards and the final word on the use of these standards is in the hands of the courts, which are at the top of the Mount Olympus of the legal system. Deep down, it depends on specific individuals – you and your colleagues – it depends on how the law is applied and, ultimately, how it affects the areas of public and individual lives that I mentioned and more.
Please make sure you are true to these high Olympian standards, like those who still live there, according to well-known, ancient traditions, I mean the Olympian gods. Please do so, as it is critical to your practical work and society’s moral fibre. Please be up to this lofty status and the status of the Russian judicial system.
I would like to thank you for the high performance of the judicial system, your performance and that of your colleagues in recent years, and I wish you every success in this unique field that is extremely important for the whole country.
All the best, thank you. Good luck.