Comparative law and justice/Russia

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Basic Information[edit]

NASA World Wind screenshot.

Russia is the largest country in the world by Landmass( 17,098,242 sq km), it is also ranked ninth largest in population. [1] It is so large that it occupies a large portion of Europe and Asia. As of July 2009 the population in Russia is 140,041,247. The climate in Russia ranges variably from humid in the south to subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north. Winters in Russia vary from cool along the Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia. Summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast. [2] Some of the natural recourses found in Russia include major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and many strategic minerals, timber. [3] The language spoken in Russia is Russian. Russia is not very religiously diverse. According to a 2006 estimate 15-20% were Russian Orthodox, 10-15% Muslim, 2% Christian. According to a 2002 census 79.8% of the people living in Russia were Russian other ethnic groups found in Russia include, Tatar 3.8%, Ukrainian 2%, Bashkir 1.2%, Chuvash 1.1%, other or unspecified 12.1% . [4]

Russian economy since fall of Soviet Union.PNG

Economic Development, Health, and Education[edit]

The GDP in Russia is 2.271 trillion, ranking seventh in the world. The GDP per capita is 16,100 making it 73rd in world. Russia produces coal, oil, gas, chemicals, and metals. [5] It also produces different types of machinery ranging from “rolling mills to high-performance aircraft and space vehicles; defense industries including radar, missile production, and advanced electronic components, shipbuilding; road and rail transportation equipment; communications equipment; agricultural machinery, tractors, and construction equipment” [6]Russia is ranked 152 in infant mortality rate with 10.56 deaths for every 1,000 live births. Females have a life expectancy of 73.14 years, while males have a life expectancy of 59.33 years. [7] Russia has a very high literacy rate at 99.4%. This is due to the fact that Russia guarantees the right to an education in Article 43 of the constitution.

Brief History[edit]

Russia was founded in the 12th century when “the Principality of Muscovy, was able to emerge from over 200 years of Mongol domination (13th-15th centuries) and to gradually conquer and absorb surrounding principalities.” [8] In the beginning of the 17th century the new Romanov Dynasty continued to expand across Siberia to the Pacific. Then Peter I who ruled from 1682-1725 extended the territory to the Baltic Sea and the country was renamed the Russian Empire. In the 19th century, more territorial gains were made in Asia and Europe. Then “defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 contributed to the Revolution of 1905, which resulted in the formation of a parliament and other reforms.” [9]

Lenin

The imperial household was overthrown in 1917 due to “repeated devastating defeats of the Russian army in World War I led to widespread rioting in the major cities of the Russian Empire”. [10] The USSR was formed after Vladimir Lenin and the communists seized power.The brutal rule of Iosif Stalin (1928-53) strengthened Communist rule and Russian dominance of the Soviet Union at a cost of tens of millions of lives. [11]

Governance[edit]

Russia is a federation.In russia the "executive power resides with the President (Dmitry Medvedev), who is the head of state, and the Prime Minister (Vladimir Putin), who is the head of government. Under the constitution, the President appoints the Prime Minister. Legislative power resides in the two houses of Parliament: the State Duma (Lower House, 450 seats), and the Federation Council (Upper House, 176 seats)."[12]


Elections[edit]

Current Russian president Dmitry Medvedev
Russian Prime minister Vladimir Putin

Just like in the United States, The president is the leader of the Russia’s executive branch, and the voting age in Russia is 18. Article 32 of the russian constitution gives citizens the right to vote and be elected, execept citizens who have been “recognized by court as legally unfit, as well as citizens kept in places of confinement by a court sentence.”[13][14] .There are some requirements for becoming president.In order to become a candidate for president the person must be at least thirty-five years old, be a resident of Russia for at least ten or citizen of Russia. The current president of Russia is Dmitry Medvedev, he was elected in 2008. In Russia, the president serves a term of four years.Just like in the United States one person may only serve for two terms. The president “controls the Defense and Security Councils and is in charge of the country's foreign policy.”[15] The president is also the commander in chief of the armed forces and "can appoint or dismiss top military commanders, and may declare martial law or a state of emergency."[16] If for some reason "a president becomes unable to continue in office because of health problems, resignation, impeachment, or death, a presidential election is to be held not more than three months later. In such a situation, the Federation Council is empowered to set the election date"[17] The sources of law in Russia include the Russian constitution, Federal constitutional law, Federal laws, and laws of subjects of federation. Administrative bodies issue the acts that must comply with the laws.[18]Just like in the United States federal laws cannot cancel out cederal constitutional law.

Judicial Review[edit]

In Russia “The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation is the supreme judicial body for civil, criminal, administrative and other cases under the jurisdiction of courts of general jurisdiction, carries out judicial supervision over their activities according to the federal law-envisaged procedural forms and provides clarifications on the issues of court proceedings (Article 126 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation).” [19]” In Russia “the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation is composed of its Chief Justice, first deputy and deputies of the Chief Justice, the justices of the Court and People’s assessors. court is made up of a chief justice It heads the judicial system of general jurisdiction, representing a supreme tier of this system.” [20]” Some of the duties of the Supreme Court in Russia include:

  • The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation acts as a court of first instance for cases of special importance or special public interest when it accepts them for consideration according to the legislation. The law determines a category of cases which are included in the sphere of activities of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation as a court of first instance . [21]
  • The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation is a cassation instance in relation to the federal courts of general jurisdiction of republics or oblast. [22]
  • The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation supervises legality, validity and substantiality of sentences and other decisions of courts of lower level. [23]

Courts and Criminal Law[edit]

Punishment[edit]

Russia has not executed anyone since 1996 and the regulations of the Council of Europe prohibit it from doing so at any time in future. [24]. Despite this fact the death penalty still remains in the law books. Its constitution states that “until its abolition, death penalty may only be passed for the most serious crimes against human life."[25] All sentences do require a jury trial. Women are not eligible for the death penalty, along with men who were over 65 or under 18 at the time in which the crime was committed. No crime has a mandatory death sentence.[26]

Russia only allows the death penalty for five crimes.

  • murder, with certain aggravating circumstances (section 105.2)
  • attempted murder of a government or public official (section 277),
  • attempted murder of a person carrying out justice or a preliminary investigation (section 295),
  • attempted murder of a law enforcement officer (section 317),
  • Genocide (section 357).

On November 19, 2009 Russia outlawed the death penalty "saying a moratorium on capital punishment should remain in force until the nation fully bans executions."[27]

Prisons[edit]

In 2002, both Russia and China also had prison populations in excess of 1 million.By October 2006, the Russian prison population declined to 869,814 which translated into 611 prisoners per 100,000 population.[28]

Detention prison Korovniki in Yaroslavl, Russia

Punishment in Russia vary from “imprisonment, fines, reforming works without imprisonment, publicity, dismissal from office, deprivation of the right to hold certain positions or perform certain activities, restitution of financial damage, and additional punishments, such as confiscation of property and deprivation of special military or other ranks.” [29] According to amnesty international “Torture and ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners were reported from throughout the Russian Federation. Methods detailed included beatings, electric shocks, suffocation with plastic bags and being forced to stay in painful positions for prolonged periods. There were also reports of rape in detention. Some detainees were denied necessary medical treatment.” [30]

Legal Personnel[edit]

The judiciary in Russia is split into three sections, “the regular court system with the Supreme Court at the top, the arbitration court system with the High Court of Arbitration on top, and the Constitutional Court as a single body with no courts under it.”[31] The courts of arbitration handle “dispute between business entities”. In Russia “there are eighty-two courts of arbitration with some two-thousand judges handling about three hundred thousand disputes annually.” [32]


The regular court system is the people's court. It serves each city district or rural district. [33] In Russia a decision made by the lower trial courts can be appealed through intermediate courts up to the Supreme Court of Russia.” [34]Cases can be tried in different ways “a case can be tried by a presiding, professional judge and two lay judges called "people’s assessors," or by a panel of three professional judges, or by a single judge.”[35]

Lawyers who choose to have a private practice in Russia “work mostly within colleges of advocates--self-managed, cooperative-type organizations there are about nineteen thousand advocates in more than one hundred colleges.” [36] The colleges of advocates are created with territorial subdivisions--in the cities, regions (oblasts), Republics or autonomous entities. In its territory any college is represented by law firms or legal aid offices, which render all regular legal assistance to citizens: advocates counsel people, draft legal documents, represent plaintiffs or defendants in civil litigation, and provide defense in criminal proceedings.” [37]

Law Enforcement[edit]

Russia has a decentralized police structure. Russia has a militia, which is a public agency, that is part of the executive branch of government. “Its tasks are protecting life, physical health, rights and freedoms of citizens; protecting property, and the interests of the state and society from criminal and other unlawful infringements. The Militia is authorized to use force to perform its functions.” The militia is divided into the criminal militia and the public security militia. [38]

The criminal militia “has the task of prevention, suppression, and exposure of criminal offenses that require a preliminary investigation; the organization of searches for persons who have escaped from bodies of inquiry; investigations under judicial bodies involving persons who avoid the execution of criminal punishment; investigation of missing persons and of other persons as the law prescribes.” [39] On the other hand the public security militia “has the task of ensuring the personal security of citizens; ensuring the public security; protection of public order; prevention and suppression of criminal offenses and minor delinquencies; the disclosure of criminal offenses that do not require a preliminary investigation; investigation of criminal offenses in the form of inquiry; the rendering of assistance to citizens, officials, businesses, establishments, organizations and public associations.”[40]

There are requirements that must be met in order to join the militia, “a person is required to pass professional training in specialized higher or secondary educational establishments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or other state departments. To enter these establishments, a person must be 18-35 years old, have a secondary Education and no previous convictions. An officer serves a probation period lasting from 3 months to 1 year.” [41]

Corruption[edit]

World Map Index of perception of corruption

Police in Russia are very corrupt. Between the years of 2004 and 2005 “Interior Ministry statistics show that crimes perpetrated by police officers rose 46.8 percent … criminal charges, most often relating to corruption and abuse of office, were brought against 4,269 officials in 2005.” [42]

A total of “1,270 police constables and 450 higher-ranked policemen had been charged in 2005 for covering up crimes”. [43]Things are so bad that, former president Vladimir Putin fired the prosecutor general in June 2006 because he was “dissatisfied with his "ineffective" efforts to combat corruption. [44]

Courts[edit]

Russia has an adversarial system. The Russian constitution contains rights to “jury trial, adversary procedure, the presumption of innocence, and the mandatory exclusion of illegally gathered evidence.” [45] Russia introduced jury trials in 1993. In Russia the defendant has a right to a jury trial “in all criminal cases subject to the jurisdiction of the second-level courts of original jurisdiction, which includes formerly capital offenses such as aggravated murder, other serious felonies, and some lesser crimes. Registered voters are chosen as jurors from, “territorial jurisdiction in which the crime was committed. They must be at least 25 years of age and have no pending criminal cases or unexpunged criminal convictions.” [46] The jury is made up of twelve jurors and two alternates. The defendant may “present evidence, make motions, obtain professional legal representation, have full discovery of the contents of the preliminary investigation dossier,make a closing argument, and appeal a judgment of either acquittal or conviction” [47]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion[edit]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion[edit]

Number of Crimes Per 100,000 Citizens
[48]
Grand total of recorded Crimes Robberies Homicide Theft Rape
2,952,367 132,393 28,904 1,310,079 6,978

Crime rates in Russia are very high. Russia has a criminal code which serves as its only source of criminal legislation. The code classifies crimes into two categories: major offenses, such as rape, kidnapping, treason, espionage, crimes against the justice system, serious violent crimes, and murder; minor offenses such as offenses against property, hooliganism, and offenses against the public order.[49] This classification helps determine the amount of time the offender will serve, as well as the “type of correctional institutions to which they are sent.” [50]

Comparison of homicide rates, 2004.

Russia has a big problem with human trafficking . In fact “Russia is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for various purposes; it remains a significant source of women trafficked to over 50 countries for commercial sexual exploitation. Russia is also a transit and destination country for men and women trafficked from Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and North Korea to Central and Western Europe and the Middle East for purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation” [51]

Comparison of homicide rates, 2004.






In Russia the age in which a person can be criminally responsible is sixteen. Persons over 14 years old will bear responsibility only for murder, major bodily injury, rape, kidnapping, larceny, robbery, burglary, stealing of firearms and drugs, malicious hooliganism, and train catastrophe.[52] The age for required or voluntary military service is 18-27 years. At age 17 men are registered for the draft.

Rights[edit]

Family Law[edit]

Adoption[edit]

In Russia “local court judges in the area where the child lives approve adoptions. The judge’s decision is based on a review of the various documents in the case and a closed court hearing which usually lasts about an hour. The law requires the parents that are adopting to attend the hearing.”[53] Even though the judge makes a decision on the day of the hearing, “it does not take effect for ten calendar days, during which time it can be appealed. Many judges waive the ten-day waiting period. This is entirely up to the judge, and seems to depend to some extent on the region and on the judge’s experience with international adoption cases.” Russia does not allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt.

Divorce[edit]

The Russian Court has jurisdiction in divorce cases on the following grounds [54]

  • Where both spouses are the citizens of the Russian Federation.
  • Where the respondent spouse resides in Russia.
  • Where the respondent spouse has property in Russia.
  • In divorce, child/ spousal support cases when the plaintiff spouse resides in Russia.
  • In divorce cases when one of the spouses is a Russian citizen.

In Russia the irretrievable breakdown of marriage is still the only formal ground for divorce. Once irretrievable breakdown is shown, a divorce will be granted. [55] De facto exists under Russian law which means that the court is not entitled to make any enquiry as to the grounds for divorce and divorce on the ground of mutual consent”. [56]In the case “that one of the spouses does not agree to dissolution of the marriage, the court can order a reconciliation period of not more than 3 months. If after this period, either of the spouses wishes to proceed to divorce, the courts will establish irretrievable breakdown and grant a decree.” [57]

Inheritance[edit]

In Russia “the main laws connected with inheritance are: the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, the Civil Procedure Code of the Russian Federation, and the Fundamental Legislation of the Russian Federation on Notarial System. [58]Russian Laws apply to the “inheritance of any property situated or registered in the Russian Federation.” [59] According to The Global Property Guide:

  • Russian inheritance laws affect everyone who owns property in the Russian Federation.
  • Russian courts of general jurisdiction are competent to resolve inheritance cases.
  • A will is not the only form of testamentary provision allowed in Russian law.
  • An owner may legally dispose of his/her property before death.
  • Owner’s rights in real property must be legally determined.
  • The ownership of land by foreigners is restricted.
  • Persons under legal age can inherit property.

Citizenship Rights[edit]

Chapter two of the Russian constitution provides citizenship rights. These include

  • The citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state.
  • The Russian Federation shall guarantee its citizens defense and patronage beyond its boundaries.
  • The citizen of the Russian Federation may have the citizenship of a foreign state (dual citizenship) in conformity with the federal law or international treaty of the Russian Federation.

full list can be found at, http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/ch2.html

Human Rights[edit]

According to a 2009 report “human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers who spoke openly about human rights abuses faced threats and intimidation. The police appeared to be reluctant to investigate such threats and a climate of impunity for attacks on civil society activists prevailed.”[60] When it comes to freedom of expression the report noted that “several human rights defenders and supporters of opposition groups faced criminal charges for expressing dissenting opinions or criticizing government authorities.”[61] Unfortunately in 2009 “at least 87 people died in the course of the year as a result of racially-motivated attacks. Government officials acknowledged that this was a serious problem and called for harsh punishments for those convicted of such crimes. However, no comprehensive plan to combat racism and racial discrimination had been put in place by the end of the year.”[62] Trial procedures did not always meet international standards of fair trial and there were continuing concerns about lack of respect for the rule of law. In some cases with a political context, the treatment of suspects amounted to persecution. The right of suspects to legal representation during investigation was repeatedly violated..”[63]

Fundamental rights[edit]

Chapter two of the Russian constitution gives its citizens rights and liberties in these include:

  • All people shall be equal before the law and in the court of law.
  • The state shall guarantee the equality of rights and liberties regardless of sex, race, nationality, language, origin, property or employment status, residence, attitude to religion, convictions, membership of public associations or any other circumstance. Any restrictions of the rights of citizens on social, racial, national, linguistic or religious grounds shall be forbidden.
  • Man and woman shall have equal rights and liberties and equal opportunities for their pursuit.
  • Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought and speech.
  • Everyone shall have the right to life.

A full list can be found at, http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/ch2.html

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