70 OF RUSSIA'S REGIONS INTRODUCE JURY TRIALS
MOSCOW, January 1, 2003. /From RIA Novosti correspondent/. From January 2003, 70 of Russia's regions will adopt jury trials. In 61 regions they are being introduced for the first time. Jury trials are guaranteed by the Constitution of Russia. The original plan was for such trials to be adopted from January 2003 throughout the entire territory of the country. But in December 2002, the Russian president submitted a bill under which jury trials will be phased in through 2003-2004, while in the Chechen Republic they will not start functioning until 2007.
According to Vyacheslav Lebedev, chairman of the Supreme Court of Russia, "the judicial corps is ready to hear cases in the presence of jury members".
Lebedev also said that the Supreme Court had looked to thorough professional training of the judges. Theoretical and practical conferences were held in all federal districts. Besides, according to Lebedev, the practice of jury trials gained over the 10 years of their functioning in 9 regions of the Federation was carefully analysed. The findings helped to formulate recommendations on methods and a training film was made for judges.
According to Alexander Gusev, director-general of the judicial department of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, in 2003 about 24 billion roubles will be allocated to finance Russia's judiciary. Compared with 2002, the financing will grow by 6 billion roubles.
Gusev remarked that in 2002 Russia got 258 new court buildings, with another 280 fully refurbished. In 86 of Russia's regions courtrooms have been adapted to hearing cases with a jury.
In 2003, Gusev thinks, the issue of side-arms to judges should be decided. At present only 207 judges have pistols issued to them.
The director-general also believes it necessary to provide courts with their own security force numbering 10,000 men. In 2002, with the new Criminal Procedure Code put into effect, the official roll of judges was increased by 3,000.
Now the number of Russian judges is more than 20,000, and supporting staff has been increased to 42,000 people.