The President also presented state decorations and certificates conferring honorary titles to representatives of the judiciary.
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Speech at the event marking the 90th anniversary of the Supreme Court founding
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, friends,
Please, accept my warmest congratulations on the 90th anniversary of the founding of Russia’s Supreme Court.
This influential judicial body heads a truly massive system of general jurisdiction courts. I just walked with and spoke with the President [of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev]. I asked: “Is that not a misprint, are there millions?” He answered: “Civil cases alone total ten million.” And there are criminal cases on top of that. That really is a large number of cases, simply a huge number.
The processes governing the establishment and improvement of Russia’s judicial system are fully reflected in the Court’s activities. And the very founding and development of the Supreme Court is closely linked with our country’s complex and at times dramatic fate.
And it is very important that the date of the Supreme Court’s founding is not considered to be 1991, even though this was a particularly important time for the development of our judicial system (I will talk about this too). The Supreme Court is rightly considered to be founded in 1923, when revolutionary tribunals were abolished and a unified judiciary, with the Supreme Court as its highest authority, was organised. This is all our history. Of course the judicial system emerged much earlier, but right now we are talking about the Supreme Court specifically.
At the time when the Supreme Court was founded, returning to the rule of law and the administration of justice was fundamentally significant. And the Supreme Court played a leading role in creating common legal practices, as well as analysing and clarifying the most difficult issues it faced.
I would like to note the major transformations that our legal system underwent in the 1960s and 1970s. They were associated with the implementation of a number of concepts of a rule-of-law state. Thus, the 1978 Constitution declared the judges’ independence and vested the Supreme Court with the right of legislative initiative for the first time.
Naturally, these innovations were confined to the Soviet system. But although the Supreme Court obviously was a part of that system, it always supported progressive legal reform and actively participated in preparations for codifying new laws.
Colleagues, it is difficult to overemphasize the Supreme Court’s contribution to the development of our modern legal system. The Russian Supreme Court was among the most dedicated and persistent initiators of radical changes in this field and began to develop the Judicial Reform Concept in 1991, the time when our country began to undergo profound democratic transformations.
”It is difficult to overemphasize the Supreme Court’s contribution to the development of our modern legal system. The Russian Supreme Court was among the most dedicated and persistent initiators of radical changes in this field.“
A new Russia required a fundamentally different judicial system: independent and self-sufficient, responsive to the requirements of the time, mindful of the best pre-revolutionary and even Soviet practice, and, most importantly, giving paramount importance to the protection of the rights, freedoms and dignity of our citizens. As the Concept’s text puts it, the reform was intended “not to make life conform to abstract schemas, but rather for the benefit of the individual.”
And the Supreme Court did everything possible to ensure that the reforms our country and society needed were fully implemented, to establish basic principles such as the independence, irremovability and protection of judges, the accessibility and transparency of the administration of justice, and the adversary nature of the judicial process. It also introduced appellate review of judicial decisions.
I should also mention another very important fact: over the entire period of the new legal system and judiciary development, the Supreme Court was engaged in summarising court rulings, advising courts as they resolved the most complex disputes, and providing active, real help. The Court initiated the establishment of judicial community bodies, holding of the first Congress of Judges, and established good, productive international contacts that were very much in demand.
It is primarily thanks to the Supreme Court that the material support level in courts meets the required standards (and I must say that the Supreme Court President has expended efforts on this issue). In turn, this has allowed us to guarantee the constitutional principle of independence of judges, and to create decent living and working conditions for them.
In recent years a number of courts have moved to new buildings perfectly fit for the administration of justice, including jury trials.
Colleagues, friends, the Supreme Court’s contribution to creating an impartial, competent and fair Russian judiciary truly is enormous. And on this big day, I am pleased to present high state decorations and certificates conferring the title Honoured Lawyer of the Russian Federation to representatives of our judiciary.
I would like to sincerely thank you all for your outstanding work and to wish you further success. Once again let me congratulate you on the occasion, the 90th anniversary of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.
Dear friends and colleagues, I would like to address once again those people who were just on the stage, and congratulate them on their titles and state decorations. But first of all I want to congratulate all of you – all Supreme Court judges and indeed all Russian judges – one more time on the Supreme Court’s 90th anniversary.
From our university years we have learnt well that the judiciary in general, and the Supreme Court in particular, are at the top of this huge system of law enforcement and administration of justice. A system that ultimately decides the fate of individuals. Or the outcome of complicated, important economic disputes, disputes that also affect people’s destinies.
This is an extremely honourable and highly important task in any state. But everyone is well aware that the people who work in this system are always at the centre of conflict. Always. Their whole life is connected with it.
This is a source of significant moral and psychological pressure, that often requires a big soul, wisdom, and something more than just professional qualities (but of course without those nothing is possible). And our Supreme Court and its members have all of the above.
I congratulate you on this wonderful occasion, the 90th anniversary of Russia’s Supreme Court founding.