President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, Mr Lebedev.
Supreme Court President Vyacheslav Lebedev: Good afternoon, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: I am delighted to see you.
Good afternoon, colleagues.
I would like to welcome you all to the meeting that you traditionally hold at the start of each year.
I suppose that, as always, many ideas and proposals for discussion have accumulated during the previous period. Certainly, their profound and detailed analysis, a search for essential decisions and their adoption are important for the entire judiciary and, of course, for our society and the entire country. This is because there are no minor issues in your work. All aspects of your activity are directly linked with justice and the protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms, and they have tremendous public and state significance.
This year, we will be marking the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Supreme Court. I know that work is underway to prepare for this significant date, and that the anniversary celebrations will coincide with the X National Congress of Judges, scheduled for November 2022.
(Addressing Vyacheslav Lebedev.) Is that correct, Mr Lebedev? Am I right?
Vyacheslav Lebedev: That’s right.
Vladimir Putin: As the top judicial body, the Supreme Court of Russia performs a large volume of work reviewing numerous court cases, analysing and summing up judicial practice, drafting measures to streamline the judicial system.
This is a continuous process because life goes on, the country develops, and new tasks arise. Suffice it to say that the rapid development of technology creates entire spheres, subject to legal regulation. New tasks and new complex challenges also arise.
For two years now we have been living in the difficult conditions of the spread of the coronavirus infection and the response measures. And, of course, Mr Lebedev, colleagues, in this context I would like to sincerely thank all the judges in Russia for their excellent and sometimes even selfless performance – or better, for fulfilling their mission; and, of course, for working with full dedication, when professional duty comes first and becomes the primary focus.
During this difficult time, our courts have not reduced their activities but worked as usual. I would like to emphasise the special role of the Supreme Court and the Council of Judges presidiums, which promptly adopted resolutions on how the courts would work, at the very beginning of the epidemic, and later regularly provided clarification on issues arising due to the pandemic.
For example, these concerned medical workers, who provided assistance to patients with COVID-19, exercising their right to receive a special payment, or ensuring the rights of people working remotely – there were very specific questions there – among other acute problems that people had to face during this difficult period.
Of course, this is still difficult for many people. And if they go to court they must get a prompt response and a just ruling there.
In this context, let me note that Russian justice remained fully socially-oriented last year, which is reflected in the daily routine of the courts as well as in the decisions and rulings of the Supreme Court. There was a special focus on analysing the consideration of cases related to the protection of children's rights, the rights of citizens in the sphere of labour relations, and consumer rights.
I would like to elaborate on the activities of magistrates. They have to bear a significant load in all kinds of proceedings. For example, last year they considered over 30 million cases. At the same time, as practice shows, the issues related to ensuring the proper operation of their administrations have not been resolved yet. I know that the Supreme Court has a proposal about this. We are talking about legally formalising interaction between the Russian regional authorities and regional councils of judges when determining the structure and staff lists of magistrates.
I believe this proposal deserves support, because similar interaction already takes place when developing draft regional budgets. It focuses the regions’ attention on the need to allocate money to support the work of the magistrates.
Digitalisation of court activities is yet another important topic. It should be noted that the pandemic has accelerated this process, not only in the courts but everywhere, in all sectors and all spheres of life. Last December, a federal law was adopted envisaging remote participation in court sessions, as well as remote examination of case materials, and sending and receiving documents online.
Our judicial system must be completely ready for this broad introduction of advanced technology, both regarding the technical equipment, of course, and, what’s important, ensuring the highest level of legal protection for both individuals and legal entities.
Colleagues, the agenda of your meeting includes a lot of topical issues. I believe that a constructive discussion will help further improve the effectiveness and quality of justice.
I would like to wish you successful and fruitful work.
Once again, thank you for what you have done over the last two years, and last year, too. Thank you for your attention.
Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, the Supreme Court President presented the country’s extensive judicial activities, which, undeniably, represent a crucial tool that ensures the vital activity of the country, the exercise of rights and freedoms of Russian Federation citizens.
Of course, this work is under the unfaltering watch of the human rights movement, which monitors certain aspects of activity of the courts in the Russian Federation.
In this regard, I would like to say that, first, we are constantly responding to these developments and discussing these issues with the President of the Supreme Court, among other people. At the same time, I would like to point out that, indeed, the judicial system of any country, the Russian Federation in particular, is a formidable machine, a huge mechanism. However, in Russia, it is not a soulless machine, and judging by what the Supreme Court President just reported, the leadership of the Supreme Court, the local judges, and councils of judges remain focused on ways to improve this process.
The Supreme Court President outlined a number of proposals to amend current laws in certain areas. Of course, we will team up with the State Duma deputies and the Federation Council members and, along with the judicial community, we will study and put them into practice based on the proposals made by the President of the Supreme Court, the practical work and judicial practice.
Mr Lebedev, colleagues,
Once again, I would like to thank you for your work and wish you all the best.