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Putin initiates major judicial reform

October 08, 2013, 11:14 UTC+3

The Supreme Commercial Court will be abolished and its powers will be transferred to the Supreme Court, the membership of which will be formed anew

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MOSCOW, October 8 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday submitted to the State Duma lower house of parliament amendments to the Russian Constitution “On the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation.” The Supreme Commercial Court will be abolished and its powers will be transferred to the Supreme Court, the membership of which will be formed anew, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes. Several candidates are considered for the post of the court’s head, including Supreme Court’s current head Vyacheslav Lebedev, the newspaper notes.

In accordance with Russian President’s proposal, the uniform and general Civil Code and the Code of Civil Procedure will be in effect in Russia.

The new Supreme Court will have 170 judges, who will be appointed by a special qualification board. Thus, the country will return to the integrity of the judicial system. In the past few years, the Supreme Commercial Court very much wanted to become an independent judicial branch, which was destroying the judicial system: after all, the Supreme Court (SC) had to remain the highest instance. The Commercial Court within it would appear originally logically - as one of the branches. Putin has stopped the irrelevant hierarchy superiority disputes, the newspaper writes.

Vladimir Putin proposes to form in Russia one Supreme Court on civil, criminal and administrative cases, economic disputes, as well as “on other cases, within the jurisdiction of the courts formed in accordance with the federal constitutional law,” the Kommersant daily writes.

Not only the general jurisdiction courts, military and arbitration courts meet this criterion, but also the Constitutional Court, which, however, is not affected by the reform. The fate of the Supreme Commercial Court has been decided with extreme toughness: it is to be totally “abolished.”

The president gives six months for the reorganization.

Director General of the Centre for Political Information Alexei Mukhin, naming the persons from the shortlist of candidates for the post of Russia’s Chief Justice, mentioned in an interview with the Kommersant daily the current Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov. The expert did not rule out that the post of the head of the single court could be taken by (Prime Minister) Dmitry Medvedev if the government resigns or if he leaves it.

The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, referring to prominent Russian lawyers, said that “from a professional point of view, the courts’ unification is absolutely unnecessary. This step can be explained not from the legal, but from the political viewpoint.”

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