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MOSCOW, November 30 (RIA Novosti) - Implementing the principle of courts' independence is a key aspect of the judicial reform.

Speaking at the national conference of judges, under way in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized that "this important principle has been the cornerstone of reform and has remained relevant and important today."

"The judiciary branch's independence is not an honorable privilege but the necessary condition that it will perform its constitutional duty in the system of divided powers," said the president.

Mr. Putin said it was necessary to work out clear principles of cooperation between the judiciary and the media.

"Too much secrecy is harmful, information vacuum breeds false stereotypes with respect to courts' operation," said the president. "Therefore, cooperation between the judiciary and the media is an extremely important issue, as is the issue of working out clear principles of their cooperation," noted Mr. Putin.

Mr. Putin also said it was time to consider raising judges' pays considerably.

"A whole system of legal, social and financial guarantees ensure courts' independence. I believe it will be appropriate to consider raising judges' pays considerably," said the president.

"I am saying it consciously. I myself graduated from the law department, and many of my friends work in courts, prosecutor's offices, the Interior Ministry or are at the Bar. They will be critical of me, but will have to admit that the judicial system is the pinnacle of justice," said the Russian leader. "It is where decisions are taken which influence individuals' destiny when criminal cases are heard, as well as the state's destiny and economic wellbeing when administrative and arbitrage cases are considered," said the president.

Mr. Putin said "the justice of court rulings is the criterion that helps society assess the quality of justice."

President Putin emphasized that respect for court meant, above all, respect for state power. "We must not forget that instances of bribery, judicial red tape and grave court mistakes undermine confidence in courts, as well as the state as a whole," said the president. He urged a relevant amendment to the law on judges' status to give them access to information on individuals and companies' incomes and property.

Mr. Putin invited to develop the best of the world's judicial practices.

The president said he meant "the pre-judicial and judicial settlement of disputes via talks and arbitration."

Mr. Putin also urged a higher professional level of the peace justice. "They examine cases originating from everyday rifts that are no less complicated than those tried by federal judges. Therefore, we need an effective system of raising peace judges' skills via educational institutions and judiciary community bodies," the president indicated.

Mr. Putin touched on the problem of the computerization of courts. He said judges needed advice from scholars doing research in the sphere of legal science, and they also needed to exchange expertise and knowledge, an unbiased analysis of law enforcement practices, and the unified procedures of judicial paperwork.

Mr. Putin also pointed to the avalanche of work at courts, which is the evidence of the greater accessibility of justice and a heavy burden on courts. Courts consider 6,000,000 civil suits, 3,000,000 administrative, 1,000,000 criminal cases, and over a million of cases related to entrepreneurship, according to Mr. Putin. "The data show a greater accessibility of justice and a great burden being borne by courts," said President Putin.