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National Congress of Judges

December 6, 2016, Moscow

Vladimir Putin took part in the 9th National Congress of Judges.

The congress is being held in Moscow on December 6–8 to discuss the Russian judiciary system, its development outlook and methods to improve courts.

Attending the congress are 780 delegates from Russian supreme courts, federal courts of general jurisdiction, commercial courts and military tribunals, judges of the peace and representatives of constitutional (charter) courts of the constituent members of the Russian Federation.

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.

I am pleased to greet the participants and guests of the National Congress of Judges. It is definitely an important event for the judicial system and for the national law enforcement agencies and the country as a whole. Your congresses invariably engender lively public interest.

You discuss current issues of the Russian judicial system, advance new ideas and propose new solutions. The agenda of your congress concerns not only the judges but, as I have said, the entire legal system and the country.

I am confident that this congress, just as your previous congresses, will be held in a constructive spirit and will give a deep analysis to the tasks facing the Russian judicial system. I would like to stress that these are very challenging tasks, because they concern the protection of civil rights, freedoms and human dignity.

The executive and legislative authorities must take your decisions on improving the functioning of courts into account. I am confident that the discussions held at this congress and its final documents will be analysed very carefully.

I know that there are many unresolved issues in the judicial system, just as in any other system. However, measures have been taken in the past four years that have had a positive influence on the structure of the judicial system and on judicial practice.

I am referring to the unification of supreme courts and the adoption of a new Administrative Court Proceedings Code. You may remember that this issue was at the top of the previous congress’s agenda. Today we have a clear and transparent procedure for hearing civil disputes against authorities of different levels. The Law On Arbitration (Mediation) became effective on September 1, 2016, completing the reform of arbitration courts.

There is one more thing I would like to stress. You know about the numerous changes that have been recently made to the criminal and administrative legislation. Amendments have been made in nearly all aspects of the legal system, and each such change provides the guidelines for court hearings.

It is obvious that new developments in the country call for changing and adjusting our legal system and legislation. At the same time, we must admit that our legal environment is changing very fast, maybe even too fast and non-systemically, which creates many problems in the sphere of law enforcement. The judicial community can make a difference here. I am confident that the parliament will respect your expert opinion. The stability and predictability of law is a common goal for all of us and a guarantee of the high standards of national jurisdiction. These are extremely important elements that we must always keep in mind.

I know that you plan to discuss a broad range of issues, including the drafting of a new and more humane policy in the sphere of criminal law, and the continued introduction of computer technology in the work of the courts.

We have not yet resolved the matter of overload. We discussed it more than once, and I know what you think about it, how it may be impossible to carry such a heavy load. This is having a negative impact on the quality of court decisions and can result in mistakes and, ultimately, infringement on civil rights and the interests of the state. I hope that you will draft recommendations on these issues that will allow us to improve this situation. You know better than anyone else about the situation at courts and the resources they have for their work, including a simplified procedure for hearing certain cases.

There are no primary and secondary tasks in the work of courts. This is self-evident. We all studied this in university and learned it very well. Everything is important: securing judges’ status and guarantees of their independence, improving judicial proceedings, increasing the openness and transparency of the justice system.

It goes without saying that judges are constantly surrounded by conflicts, disputes, sometimes even people’s misfortunes and tragedies. Not just anybody can handle so much tension. But you chose this path yourself and set your own course in life. I must say it is an honourable, serious, excellent choice. What you do is not just a job. It would be appropriate to say that it is a mission for the benefit of society, individuals and the entire country.

Staffing is one of the persistent issues discussed at these congresses. The judicial branch vests people working in the system with special authorities. It is absolutely fair that the demands placed on them are also high. A judge must be a model of objective, incorruptible and impeccable actions and decisions.

The main responsibility for the professional and personal qualities of candidates for judgeships lies with qualification boards. They need to be improved just like everything else. I hope the congress will spend some time discussing this issue.

I would like to note that it is necessary to preserve the purity of the judiciary and raise confidence in the courts as the chief protector of the rights of all individuals regardless of income, age, ethnicity, job and even nationality if the person is subject to Russian jurisdiction.

The actions and decisions of courts directly affect the lives of millions of people and the resolution of disputes on various aspects of life. Therefore, the public has very high standards for the judicial system, judges, their work and moral character. Obviously, judges must meet these standards completely.

My dear colleagues, important decisions on improving the judicial system are taken not only at judicial congresses. However, these forums give an enormous impetus to the system, toward a new and a qualitatively different level of justice.

I wish you success in your work. Good luck.

Thank you for your attention.


December 6, 2016, Moscow