Difficult justice

The Supreme Court of Russia hears over 1,500 cases a year, ten times more than the U.S. Supreme Court. In two instances out of three it cancels the decisions of lower courts.

During the first six months of 2009, according to the statistics published yesterday, the court examined 787 cases, of which 462 or 58 per cent were granted a review. Last year's figures are similar: out of over one thousand cases heard in half a year nearly sixty per cent were re-considered.

"The findings are just devastating, horrific,” said the State Duma deputy, ex-prosecutor Victor Ilyukhin. “There is someone’s life behind every case and it is broken by the lack of qualification of judges [in lower courts].”

The Supreme Court, which is supposed to act in exceptional circumstances, has the caseload of a municipal court. The highest judicial body for criminal and civil cases receives more than two hundred thousand complaints a year, a staggering number by any standards.

Yet, according to Ilyukhin, "Among those cases that did not reach the panel errors are not less common, but people have lost faith in the judicial system. Besides, you need to pay a lot of money. For many, justice has become unattainable.”



November 27, 2009