#14 - JRL 2009-222 - JRL Home
Moscow Times
December 3, 2009
Courts to Form Agency to Win Public Trust
By Alexandra Odynova

The nation’s three top courts hope to build trust in the judicial system through a new agency that will distribute rulings and other legal materials, a top judge said Wednesday.

The Constitutional Court, the Supreme Arbitration Court and the Supreme Court will publish the information through the new Russian Agency of Legal and Court Information, or RAPSI, in cooperation with RIA-Novosti, the state-owned news agency, Constitutional Court chief justice Valery Zorkin said.

“If there is no trust, there is no legitimacy of the courts and, therefore, of the government in general,” Zorkin said at a presentation of RAPSI.

A law ordering more transparency in the courts has been signed by President Dmitry Medvedev and will come into force next July. The law aims to make courts more open to the public in order to overcome what Medvedev has dubbed as legal nihilism.

As part of its efforts to become more transparent, the Constitutional Court plans to broadcast its hearings on the Internet, Zorkin said.

Surveys carried out in recent years indicate that most Russians don’t trust the courts. Lawyers and human rights groups have frequently accused the courts of corruption and being obedient to the government.

Anton Ivanov, chief justice of the Supreme Arbitration Court, acknowledged Wednesday that judges, especially in regional courts, sometimes face pressure from local officials. But the courts are independent of the government, he said.

Zorkin said he could recall only one case of the Constitutional Court facing pressure from the authorities, when President Boris Yeltsin’s Kremlin rewrote the Constitution to give himself broad powers in 1993.

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