President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Chuichenko, Employees and veterans of the Ministry of Justice,
I am happy to welcome you at the gala meeting on the 220th anniversary of the Ministry of Justice of Russia.
I would like to congratulate all those present in this hall and your colleagues on this significant and historical date, and to congratulate all those for whom the work in the ministry, its central office, territorial bodies and subordinate agencies is a profession and a calling.
Established by a manifesto of Alexander I, the Ministry of Justice has become an integral and very important part of Russia’s state system, a reliable bulwark of legality, legal order, education, and development of respect for law in society.
From the very start, the ministry was charged with very responsible tasks on developing and upgrading national legislation, ensuring the functionality of the courts, the Prosecutor’s Office and, after the 1864 judicial reform, of the notary, magistrates and the jury system. In effect, the ministry started developing and implementing the legal policy of the Russian state.
The Ministry of Justice fully met these high requirements, and promoted key reforms, playing the leading role in systematising and codifying the law. It monitored the legal implications and uniformity of law enforcement practice in the vast expanses of our country, thereby facilitating the strengthening of Russia and its development as a world power with a legal system that contemporaries considered one of the most effective and humane in the world.
The best ministerial employees used the power of law to advance the rights and freedoms of the people and to protect them against injustice and arbitrariness. Their work served as an example of top-level professionalism and honest selfless service to the Fatherland, and laid down the wonderful traditions of the Russian legal school that were honoured and developed by successive generations of lawyers.
In the 20th century, the Ministry of Justice officials conscientiously fulfilled their duty and honestly shared all trials with the people. During the most challenging periods of the Great Patriotic War, they engaged in painstaking study, analysis and systematisation of law and introduced important regulatory principles and norms.
Three years after the Great Victory, in 1948, new legislation and codes were published. In 1957, upon the initiative of the Ministry of Justice of the RSFSR, one of the fundamental principles of criminal justice – the presumption of innocence – was made part of judicial practice.
Notably, during the pivotal 1990s, the Ministry of Justice made a significant contribution to the revival of strong state power when the fundamental principles underlying the construction of a social state were codified, and the principles for forming our country’s single legal field and guaranteeing the rights and legitimate interests of citizens were introduced. All of that led to a sweeping reform of Russian legislation and, most importantly, to our country’s confident advancement along the path of building a rule-of-law democratic state.
Today, the Ministry of Justice is in charge of over 20 key areas and two large subordinate federal services: those of corrections and bailiffs. Constant improvement of the legislation, strengthening of the foundations of statehood and, importantly, better legal protection of our citizens largely depend on the Ministry officials’ competence.
Maintaining the unity of Russia's legal space is crucial. The Ministry has done a lot to bring regional legislation in line with federal legislation. We must continue to work on these issues systematically and consistently.
I would like to note in this context that it was decided last December that the Ministry of Justice would coordinate the work on systematizing the legal acts of government bodies at all levels. This will result in the creation and maintenance of the state digital resource for legal acts.
Clearly, the advantages of digitisation must find wider application in our work with non-profit organisations registered by the Ministry of Justice. All constructive initiatives from civil society must receive your support.
A range of convenient tools for non-profit organisations already exists, such as electronic financial reporting. At the same time, it is important to promote the transparent and open operation of non-profit organisations, along with regulating their corporate management.
One unconditional priority is the development of the system of free legal aid. Relevant state legal offices, where this aid is offered to people systemically, are already functioning in 32 regions of the Russian Federation. I hope these legal aid offices will be set up everywhere, in each region.
And, of course, it is important to ensure the quality of legal services. The Ministry of Justice was charged with this task, among others.
People must be given the opportunity to address tested and qualified lawyers online. This is a convenient, modern and reliable form of interaction and should be introduced into practice as soon as possible.
I would also like to note the role of the ministry in developing notary services. Many important federal laws have been adopted in this area in the past few years. For instance, it is now possible to perform notary services online and remotely.
Another key task is to develop forensic expert activities, including the creation of new expert laboratories in the regions. Their task is to upgrade the quality and speed of judicial expert assessment, thereby ensuring quicker and better protection of the rights and interests of individuals and companies in legal proceedings.
The ministry must continuously monitor the work of the Federal Service for the Execution of Sentences (FSES). It is particularly important to draft and introduce a general layout for penal institutions. This will make it possible to locate these institutions rationally, in part, move them outside residential areas, merge them and create up-to-date conditions for FSES employees, lawyers and representatives of public organisations.
We need to continue working to establish correctional centres in cooperation with the regions of the federation and the business community.
Convicts will serve their sentences partly through penal labour and receive a salary for it. They will receive money, and thus, will be able to pay for damages. All this will help reduce reoffending and promote crime prevention with the general humanisation and liberalisation of our legislation.
A topical task for the Federal Bailiff Service is to continue the digital conversion of the execution of judicial acts. This format is modern and convenient for all parties to the executive process. It makes the work of bailiffs more transparent and simplifies the process of presenting the required documents.
We will then need to create a uniform state registry of enforcement procedures. It will allow bailiffs to act quicker, relying on the information from the state information system on state and municipal payments.
The Ministry of Justice enjoys broad powers and has great judicial, expert, analytical and personnel potential, and we need to make the most of it.
I am sure you realize the scale and complexity of the tasks facing you and will do everything you can for the successful, effective accomplishment of these goals in the interests of our citizens and for all of Russia.
Today’s correctional department employee must be a professional who strictly abides by the law and is a model of personal integrity. This is a source of respect and trust in you and your work in society.
Allow me to congratulate you on your anniversary day once again.
I would like to thank the honoured veterans of the Ministry of Justice for their tangible contribution to strengthening Russia’s legal system and its current employees for the extremely important work that you perform in good faith.
Let me wish you every success.