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The head of the Institute of Socio-Economic and Political Studies, Nikolai Fyodorov, who coordinates the programme of All-Russia Popular Front, proposed to draft a new variant of Russia’s Criminal Code. He expressed an opinion that liberalization of the legislation would morally regenerate the society. Experts share Fyodorov’s criticism of the modern judicial system. However, not all of them support his idea of drastic renovation of the system.
The Kommersant business daily citied Fyodorov as saying that as a result of multiple amendments and addenda the effective Criminal Code looks like non-systemic, patchwork document. “We propose to develop and adopt a conceptually new Criminal Code that should become fundamental – both ideological and juridical – groundwork for pursuing criminal policy,” he said. Fyodorov believes that the new legislation should limit application of deprivation of freedom – both by the court’s verdict and while a criminal case is investigated. He also considers it expedient to upgrade the process of nominating judges and “to make public examination of candidates for the judicial post obligatory, including qualifying written exams, which results should be placed in the Internet.”
The daily reminded that the effective Criminal Code was drafted under Boris Yeltsin’s rule and entered into force in January 1997. It replaced the Soviet-era Criminal Code of 1960 making the new legislation closer to modern realities. In particular, among its priorities were observance of human rights and freedoms, stronger responsibility for grave crimes and reduced responsibility for less grave and less serious crimes.
Human rights activists welcome Fyodorov’s initiative, but doubt that it can be translated into reality under the rule of the United Russia party. “Undoubtedly, liberalization of the criminal legislation is necessary. We have very tough and unjust legislation. But the initiative is put forward by a member of the United Russia, whose moves are targeted only at toughening measures,” the head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeyeva, told Kommersant. “This is a good proposal. The current judicial system needs to be reformed. The question is how this move will be translated into reality,” said human rights activist Sergei Kovalev.
The president of the Moscow Attorneys Chamber, Genry Reznik, opposed Fydorov. “There is no need to adopt new criminal and criminal-procedural codes,” he was quoted by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily. “The Criminal Code is based on the principles developed and established two centuries ago as a minimum.” The expert expressed confidence that the effective code can be upgraded even today. At the same time Reznik considers it necessary to expand jurisdiction of the jury trial and change the order of judicial education. In this issue he expressed solidarity with Fyodorov believing that among the servants of Themis (goddess of justice) there should be more former attorneys.