«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus The Ministry of Interior, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the office of the prosecutor general (Procuracy) are responsible for law enforcement at all levels of government. The FSB is responsible for security, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism, but it also has broader law enforcement functions, including fighting crime and corruption. The Procuracy has authority over the FSB, and the Investigative Committee, an independent body, has the authority to investigate crimes of individuals in the FSB. The national police force, under the Ministry of Interior, is organized at the federal, regional, and local levels.
In February the magazine New Times published accusations that the special purpose police detachments (OMON) employed slave labor and had permission to use excessive force when disbanding unauthorized demonstrations (see section
On March 10, legislators from the state Duma security committee sent an official request to Prosecutor General Yuriy Chayka to provide an explanation for an incident in which the Moscow traffic police used civilians' vehicles with persons inside as a human roadblock to stop a car carrying suspected armed criminals.
Stanislav Sutyagin, one of the men whose car was damaged, told his story on Youtube. Sutyagin noted the traffic police later informed the car owners that since the criminal vehicle got away, they would not be compensated for their car damages.
A new law empowered the FSB to issue warnings to individuals whom they believe to be creating the conditions for a criminal act "against the country's security." The new law imposes fines and detention of up to 15 days for individuals judged to have hindered the work of an FSB employee.
According to the Ministry of Interior Web site, MVD officials committed 125,000 offenses during the year (21 percent more than in 2009). Of this number, an estimated 63,000 involved misconduct or disciplinary violations, and 4,171 criminal cases against police officers were initiated.
On January 22, Aleksey Dymovskiy, a former police officer who gained notoriety for his Youtube video in which he accused the Novorossiysk police force of corruption, was arrested and charged with defrauding the police department of
RUSSIA24,000 rubles ($775). He was held in pretrial detention for two months, and then released (see section 4).
On July 1, authorities released Tatyana Kazakova, mayor of the Siberian village of Listvyanka, whom the FSB had arrested in 2008, accused of abuse of office and election irregularities, and held for more than two years in pretrial detention.
Observers alleged her arrest may have been ordered in retaliation for her request for a criminal inquiry into an FSB-owned resort. The federal children's ombudsman, Pavel Astakhov, called the government's refusal to allow Kazakova's children to visit her during detention a "major injustice" and declared she was being persecuted, a charge echoed by the Siberian human rights ombudsman.
Kazakova was found guilty of a felony, but her six-year sentence was suspended in September.
On August 2, police in Tatarstan detained human rights lawyer Rustem Vliullin for two days. Vliullin claimed one officer from the counterextremism department beat him and another officer threatened to kill him. He was arrested after videotaping police when they stopped his client for a traffic violation. He was never charged with a crime, and he filed a suit against the police.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
By law an individual may be taken into custody for up to 48 hours without court approval if arrested at the scene of a crime, provided there is evidence of the crime or a witness. Otherwise a court-approved arrest warrant is required. After their arrest, detainees are typically taken to the nearest police station, where they are informed of their rights. Police are required to document in writing the grounds for the detention. This document is to be signed by the detainee and the police officer within three hours of detention. Police must interrogate the detainee within the first 24 hours of detention. Prior to interrogation the detainee has the right to meet with an attorney for two hours. No later than 12 hours after detention, police must notify the prosecutor. They must also notify the detainee's relatives unless a prosecutor issues a warrant to keep the detention secret.
Police are required to release a detainee after 48 hours, subject to bail conditions, unless a court decides to prolong custody in response to a motion filed by police no later than eight hours before the expiration of the 48-hour detention period. The defendant and attorney must be present at the court hearing. By law police must complete their investigation and transfer the case file to a prosecutor for
RUSSIAarraignment within two months of a suspect's arrest, although a court may extend a criminal investigation for up to six months in cases classified as complex. With the personal approval of the prosecutor general, a judge may extend that period up to 18 months. According to some defense lawyers, these time limits were frequently evaded by formally sending the case to court for adjudication. This action effectively extends the 18-month time limit.
Amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code adopted in April imposed new limits on pretrial detention in cases involving "entrepreneurial" (i.e., white-collar) crimes.
The amendment also widened the definition of economic crimes and allowed bail to be offered at any time through real property, rather than cash or securities.
While it is difficult to accurately measure the amendment's impact, available information seems to indicate a significant decrease in pretrial detention.
According to Russian Supreme Court Justice Lebedev, in the first six weeks after the passage of the amendment, courts approved less than 50 percent of detention applications, in contrast to the 90 percent approval rate prior to the law. According to an editorial in the newspaper Vedimosti, the total number of accused persons held in pretrial detention dropped by 10 percent--from 131,400 to 120,100, in the first nine months of the year. However, some lower courts appeared to disregard the amendments by simply defining the charged crimes as "nonentrepreneurial," thereby exempting them from the scope of the new law. This disregard was possibly due to illicit pressure on judges by corrupt business parties who initially "commissioned" the cases.
Legal limitations on detention were generally respected outside of the North Caucasus; however, there were exceptions. There were reports of occasional violations of the 48-hour limit for holding an arrestee. At times authorities failed to write the official detention protocol within the required three hours after the actual detention and held suspects longer than the legal detention limits. In April legislation was adopted to provide remedies in domestic courts for persons with grievances over prolonged detention (see section 1.e.).
There were reports that police, in obtaining defense counsel for detainees, obtained defense counsel friendly to the prosecution. These "pocket" defense attorneys agreed to the interrogation of their clients in their presence while making no effort to defend their clients' legal rights. The general ignorance of legal rights on the part of both defendants and their legal counsel contributed to the persistence of these violations. In many cases, especially in more remote regions, defense counsel was not available for indigent defendants.
RUSSIAJudges occasionally suppressed confessions of suspects if they were taken without a lawyer present. They also at times freed suspects who were held in excess of detention limits, although they usually granted prosecutors' motions to extend the detention period for good cause. The Supreme Court overturned a number of cases in which lower court judges permitted prolonged detention on what the Supreme Court deemed inadequate grounds.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary; however, the judicial branch did not consistently act as an effective counterweight to other branches of the government. Judges remained subject to influence from the executive, military, and security forces, particularly in high profile or politically sensitive cases, such as the Khodorkovskiy case.
The law requires judicial approval of arrest warrants, searches, seizures, and detentions. This approval requirement was generally honored, although the process of obtaining the judicial warrants was occasionally subverted by bribery or political pressure.
The Investigation Committee, formerly located within the Office of the Prosecutor General, is now an independent agency, overseeing the investigation of many serious cases. The Investigation Committee chief is appointed directly by the president.
Despite recent increases in judges' salaries, reports of judges accepting bribes continued. For the first half of the year, the Supreme Qualifying Collegium of Judges removed one judge from office for a disciplinary offense and warned another. This collegium is charged with certifying appointments to the judiciary and judges' promotions. Regional qualifying collegia during this period disciplined 163 judges for disciplinary violations, including 155 judges of the courts of general jurisdiction and eight arbitrazh (commercial court) judges. In addition, a considerable number of judges each year are allowed to leave office on their own initiative without any question of discipline being raised formally.
The Supreme Court stated in April that 40 percent of criminal cases presented to the upper court in 2009 suffered from judicial errors. The reported main sources of these errors were poor qualifications of judges in the lower courts and improper
RUSSIAclassification of crimes as criminal rather than administrative. The head of the Supreme Court, Vyacheslav Lebedev, called for stricter selection of future judges, noting that 60 to 70 judges each year are dismissed.
Authorities did not provide adequate protection for witnesses and victims from intimidation or threats from powerful criminal defendants. In May 2009 the Ministry of Interior estimated nearly half of the approximately 10 million witnesses in criminal cases suffered threats or violence from criminal elements;
they noted the existence of the witness protection program was little known among the population.
In February 2009 a Moscow judge, Olga Kudeshkina, publicly criticized Moscow's judicial system, alleging widespread improper influence on rulings and calling it an "instrument for settling political, commercial, or personal scores." She was subsequently dismissed from her position. She appealed her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which in August awarded her 10,000 euros ($13,400).
In June 2009 the Council of Europe issued a report, based on interviews with judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and defendants, which asserted that judges routinely received intimidating telephone calls from superiors instructing them how to rule in specific cases, with particular emphasis placed on delivering convictions at any cost. The report stated defense attorneys were frequently threatened and corporations were at the mercy of corrupt law enforcement officials. Among the cases detailed in the report was one of a Moscow region judge who was dismissed and told publicly by a United Russia Duma deputy that she "ought to be shot" after voiding the results of a local election.
Trials typically are conducted before a judge without a jury (bench trials). The defendant is presumed innocent. The defense is not required to present evidence and is given an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and call defense witnesses.
Defendants who are in custody during the trial are confined to a caged area in the courtroom and must consult with their attorneys through the bars. Defendants have the right of appeal.
The law provides for the use of jury trials for a limited category of crimes in higher-level regional courts.
RUSSIADuring the year the ECHR on multiple occasions found the country in violation of provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights related to trial procedures. The court found 84 violations by the country involving the right to a fair trial and 29 violations involving proceedings that exceeded a "reasonable" length of time.
According to the Novosti Web site, in December Prime Minister Putin opined jury trials are "ineffective" and can be influenced by clan or ethnic interests. In 2008 the State Duma enacted, and the president signed, a law providing that certain crimes, including terrorism, espionage, hostage taking, and mass disorder, would be heard by panels of three judges rather than by juries.
In July 2009 the government began using plea bargaining in criminal cases. Plea bargains reduced defendants' time in pretrial detention, reduced the average prison sentence by one third, and allowed courts and prosecutors to devote their resources to other cases.
Prior to trial defendants are provided a copy of their indictment, which describes the charges in detail. They are also given an opportunity to review their criminal file following the completion of the criminal investigation. Defense attorneys are allowed to visit their clients in detention, although sometimes conditions reportedly make it difficult for attorneys to conduct meaningful and confidential consultations with their clients. Some defense lawyers claimed their conversations were monitored electronically by informants, and that sometimes prison authorities didn't provide them with access to their clients. They also claimed that investigators hired "pocket attorneys" who simply advised defendants to confess, thereby preventing the defendant from obtaining real legal representation.