Dmitry Medvedev also announced having signed a law that will combat attempts to bribe foreign officials in the course of carrying out international transactions.
Taking part in the meeting were President of the Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin, President of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev, President of the Higher Arbitration Court Anton Ivanov, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Ivanov, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, and Presidential Aide and Head of the Presidential State-Legal Directorate Larisa Brychyova.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, this is one of our regular meetings on developing the country’s judicial system. Before we start, I want to inform you that yesterday I signed an important law that sees Russia join the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
This is a much-discussed issue, and I have discussed it too with the heads of some of the international organisations. I think that joining this convention is a very important step and will help to harmonise our legal system with international standards in combating corruption.
I remind you that last April, we made changes to the Criminal Code and the Administrative Offences Code. Not only actual acts of corruption carry criminal and administrative liability now, but so do proposals or promises to give money or other assets to foreign public officials in return for them taking specific action.
Passing a law is always just the first step of course, and we now have to make sure that these provisions start working fast and are implemented in our judicial practice, including with regard to our international obligations.
Colleagues, today we will discuss ways to improve the procedures for judges’ selection and for holding judges to disciplinary liability. These were the subjects we agreed to examine as there is a clear need for changes in these areas as part of the overall reforms of our court system that we have been systematically pursuing over these last years. You know that I raised this matter too last June at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum and St Petersburg International Legal Forum, following which I issued a number of instructions, including on this particular subject.
Some differences of opinion emerged during the discussions of the proposals. I think we are to discuss the different options and settle on a common approach and policy in this area, and reach agreement on the nature of the amendments that we should make to the laws on the court system.
Introducing competitive selection of judges would require some specific changes, such as recommendations from the president of the judges’ qualifications board, unlike the situation under the current procedures. This is something we should discuss too, because there are differences of opinion on this particular issue.
Whatever we do, the work to improve the procedures for bringing judges to disciplinary liability will also require us to establish a higher disciplinary board as a separate body within the court system at the federal level, and establish its regional boards too. They would take over the judges’ qualifications board’s powers for imposing disciplinary penalties, including early termination of judges’ powers as penalty for particular breaches of conduct. This is a matter we also must discuss and on which we need to settle our policy.
The Justice Ministry has already set out its position on this matter, on the list of disciplinary violations, clarifications to the type and nature of violations, and a number of other issues.
In short, I propose that we now go over all of these matters and settle on our final, consolidated position. Let’s start work.