President Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, please, begin.
President of The Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev: General jurisdiction judges examine a great many cases. Current statistics show that the volume of cases brought before the courts and currently examined will be similar to last year, and the number of civil cases could perhaps increase. Faced with this situation, our task is to ensure that cases are examined in accordance with the Constitution and the law, rapidly, and within the deadlines set by the law. In this respect, there is a big problem today with the supervisory review stage of examining civil cases. It must be said that this is a cumbersome procedure that involves many different stages, and this is why cases take longer than they should to be examined. A civil plaintiff can see his case under supervisory review over a period of up to several years. This inevitably causes surprise and complaints from citizens and creates a situation of legal uncertainty for the cases being examined under these procedures. In order to address this situation, the Supreme Court has drawn up a draft law making amendments to the Civil Procedural Code. This draft law provides for considerably reducing the supervisory review procedures involved in examining civil cases, and this will mean they can be examined more rapidly and will ensure that there is no legal uncertainty. This draft law was introduced to the Duma in February, but it is has still not gone through its first reading, which is why I am informing you about the situation. I think that this draft law should be given priority and not be delayed any longer.
The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted a resolution back in February 2006, asking the Russian authorities to improve supervisory review procedures for the examination of civil cases. We drew up the according draft law and it is now before the Duma. According to my information from the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers plans to examine this matter once again this month and see what has been done by way of improvements in this area. I must also say that we sent this draft law to the Council of Europe for an expert opinion. I met with the heads of the department, with the secretary general for human rights and with the secretary general of the Council of Europe at the beginning of September. Our draft law was assessed as a very positive step towards improving supervisory review procedures in our civil legal proceedings. The Council of Europe has made its comments and views known. I think that some of them can be adopted as amendments during the draft law’s second reading, for they are reasonable and correct. I therefore ask you to support us in speeding up the examination of this draft law.
I would also like to inform you about another draft law the Supreme Court has drawn up. This draft law has relevance today, though it is perhaps somewhat unusual. We propose giving general jurisdiction judges in the Russian Federation the power to examine some matters currently examined by the European Court of Human Rights. Which matters do we have in mind? We have prepared a draft law that contains provisions for the state to pay compensation for damages suffered as a result of violations of the right to legal proceedings within reasonable deadlines, and for damages suffered as a result of violation of the right to enforcement of legal decisions that come into force within reasonable deadlines. This is something we can do. If we know that a case has been drawn out and delayed by investigation and court examination procedures, why should citizens have to wait so many years? The European Court of Human Rights is overburdened as it is, and our citizens should be able to turn to our courts and resolve these problems. This will be quicker and better for our citizens, and probably the more correct course of action. We have discussed this draft law’s concept in the Council of Europe and overall it did not raise any problems there and has received support.
Vladimir Putin: Vyacheslav Mikhailovich, I think that both your proposals are reasonable. They are both additional steps to develop Russia’s justice system. Most important is that they improve legal proceedings, especially with regard to civil cases, and that they guarantee the legal rights and interests of our citizens. I agree with your proposals.
Vyacheslav Lebedev: Thank you, Vladimir Vladimirovich.