This report written by the Center for Strategic Research in cooperation with the Institute for the Rule of Law at the European University at Saint-Petersburg assesses the key flaws of the judiciary system and proposes measures for its improvement that should bolster economic growth and social stability in the long run. The report has emerged from cooperation with the legal community and the Supreme Court of Russia.

In proposing these steps, the authors are guided not so much by an ideal vision or imported ideas as by a subject-problem approach. Ignoring such an approach and unthinkingly copying international practices have often resulted in unpredictable outcomes.

Despite the growth of the proportion of those who approve of the performance of courts, it is still relatively low comparing to the number of negative ratings.

A diagnostic assessment of the performance of the judicial preliminarily conducted through a series of empirical studies revealed a number of issues that need to be addressed. These include:

  • The heavy workload for judges leads to a significant decrease in the quality of the judicial system, the adoption of “one-size-fits-all” decisions and the erosion of the essence of justice.

  • The poor quality of the system for selecting candidates to the judiciary and the procedure for appointing judges, which is not transparent and is not reflected in the relevant laws.

  • The excessive influence of court presidents and the organizational dependence of judges.

  • The vagueness of grounds for determining the disciplinary liability of judges, which opens the door to the use of disciplinary responsibility as a way to exert influence on judges.

  • The excessive repressiveness of and poor control over criminal charges (put more radically, the existence of accusatory bias).

Thus, proposals considered in this report focus on overcoming the mistrust in the institutions that were originally designed to protect citizens’ rights. This is a key problem that disrupts the proper functioning of the whole judiciary system.