Under the Soviet criminal justice system, criminal suspects and defendants were practically stripped of the rights granted to them in international law and standards. Fair trial standards were systematically violated as an independent judiciary did not exist and suspects and defendants were generally considered guilty before trial. Crime policy was based on a state plan, requiring police and procuracy to solve specific numbers of crimes. The system did not allow for any form of public oversight over prisons or other detention centers.
The year 1990 saw the first serious attempts to reform this system. New laws were adopted that established a theoretically independent judiciary and provided due process rights, and crime policies were temporarily changed. However, the reforms came to a premature end several years later as they met great resistance from both the criminal justice institutions and the political establishment. As a result, Russia's criminal justice system remains a hybrid of half-reformed and purely Soviet institutions and laws. The procuracy remains unreformed. The judiciary is legally independent but in practice is still very dependent on local governments. Crime policies are once again based on a seemingly rigid a government plan, attitudes toward suspects and defendants have seen little change, and the entire system still lacks transparency.
In October 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the R.S.F.S.R. (the parliament) adopted a Concept for Judicial Reform, drafted by a group of independent experts, which was to serve as a guideline for future draft laws.233 In 1992, the Department for Judicial Reform and Court Proceedings was formed under the presidential administration with a mandate to draft a proposal on judicial reform. This proposal, the Concept for Judicial Reform, called for the transformation not only of courts but of almost all law enforcement agencies with respect to the preliminary investigation, trial, and implementation of court decisions. The Concept envisaged the creation of an independent judicial corporation that would enjoy the trust of the people. One of the most important guarantees of independence was seen to be life-long tenure for all professional judges. The concept further called for the transformation of the procuracy into an agency that would have only policing and prosecutorial functions and would cede certain functions to the judiciary, thereintroduction of jury trials, the introduction of justices of the peace, a constitutional court, and judicial control over the validity of arrests.
Some of these ideas were implemented. The Supreme Soviet adopted laws on the constitutional court, on arbitration courts, and on the status of judges; introduced judicial control over arrests (habeas corpus); and amended the criminal procedure code to allow for the gradual introduction of jury trials. However, as prospects for Russia's timely transition to democracy, rule of law, and a market economy dimmed, the initial optimism about reforming Russia's criminal justice system faded. It became clear that the changes needed to transform the system would have to go much deeper than any of the authors of the reforms had apparently foreseen. The reforms sparked institutional rivalries, and many of those who worked in the system, being used to the old proceedings and afraid of losing their jobs, came to oppose the reforms. At the same time, the government's political will to carry out real reforms, not only of the criminal justice system but across the board, disappeared and in some areas the government returned to Soviet-style policies. For example, politicians reverted to their previous formulaic positions on crime in reaction to increased crime rates.
A new criminal procedure code that would introduce real adversarial proceedings (as called for in the Russian constitution) has not been adopted,234 and the procuracy was never reformed. Justices of the peace (an institution which could greatly have relieved the overburdened court system) were introduced, but after delays. The gradual reintroduction of jury trials came to a stop. In 1995, the Department for Judicial Reform was dissolved and judicial reform appears to have largely ceased. The reform effort has thus come to a stop before it really started, leaving the criminal justice system in great disarray.
Problems Reforming the Procuracy
The reform of the procuracy proposed in the Concept for Judicial Reform was aimed at removing the conflict of interest that currently arises in the procuracy's dual functions of both investigating and prosecuting crimes, and guaranteeing due process and human rights. Reform did not progress, and the procuracy has aggressively defended its current structure.
Procuracy officials do not see their functions as contradictory. Anatolii Korotkov, first deputy head of the investigative department of the Procuracy General, maintained that combining law enforcement and rights protection carriesno conflict of interest, and that the procuracy's prosecutorial work should be seen as a form of protecting the rights of crime victims.235
In practice, however, the procuracy does not adequately protect the rights of defendants it is investigating and prosecuting for crimes. The prosecutorial function is clearly given priority over defense of the rights of criminal suspects and defendants and numerous (and often gross) violations of their rights are silently tolerated.
Reforms of the Judiciary
A 1992 law on the status of judges establishes, and is intended to safeguard, the independence of the judiciary. This flagship of judicial reform, however, is in many respects undermined by the practical dependence of the judiciary upon local authorities and law enforcement agencies. The judiciary, moreover, has yet to show that it is prepared to become a truly independent arbiter.
Although Russia's constitution requires that courts be financed from the federal budget alone, and that sufficient funds be allocated to the judiciary to allow it to fully and independently perform its tasks, federal financing of courts is not sufficient for basic upkeep of the court system.236 As a result, court presidents are forced to beg for help from local authorities-who are under no obligation to financially or otherwise support the courts-to add resources to their budgets and to ensure the delivery of electricity, postal, and telephone services. In an interview with Obshchaia gazeta in 1998, the chair of the Supreme Court, Viacheslav Lebedev actually encouraged such practices. He said:
I would not judge a president of a court who goes to the leader of his province and asks him for money for the work of the court. I am grateful to those governors who gave money to the courts for operating expenses, who have helped restore buildings.237
A study by the University of Toronto in Canada found that more than half of the 300 district court judges questioned received money from regional governments.238 Sergei Pashin, a judge on the Moscow City Court, gave an example of how this assistance works in practice. He told Human Rights Watch that Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has been paying bonuses to all judges (apparently between 1,500 and 2,000 rubles for district level judges) in Moscow several times a year. Pashin also said that the Moscow city police had donated a luxurious jeep to the Moscow City Court. As a result, court presidents have clear incentives to respond to "requests" local authorities might have in judicial matters. Vladimir Mironov, formerly a judge on the Moscow City Court, told Human Rights Watch:
[T]he court is that agency that doesn't have anything of its own...and therefore always walks with a stretched-out hand. If they give little, of course, there is going to be dissatisfaction and nothing in the pocket, therefore the court is like that beggar who goes with his stretched-out hand. And what can [the court system] bargain with? Only political decisions.
What is the policy of the [Moscow] city court? For example, Yuri Mikhailovich Luzhkov said: There is the fight against crime. If there is fight against crime, the functions of the court are as follows: to pass maximum sentences on those criminals and not to hinder other law enforcement agencies by verifying...evidence, resolving...doubts [applying], the presumption of innocence, or even acquitting someone.... The court is the agency which must precisely carry out a set task in the city of Moscow.239
Several judges told Human Rights Watch that court presidents, who administer the assignment of cases, encourage judges to consult with them before issuing decisions, even though this is illegal under Russian law.240 For example, Nadezhda Kovaleva, a former judge with Meshchanskii District Court in Moscow, said at a seminar on the judiciary in September 1998:
About what kind of independence, about what kind of individual authority can there be when the president of the court, so to speak, expresses surprise because Kovaleva goes into the judge's chamber to make a ruling, doesn't call [the court president], doesn't deliberate with [the court president], doesn't ask which decision should be issued?241
Court presidents pressure judges to rule on cases as quickly as possible and to pass severe sentences. Sergei Pashin told Human Rights Watch that a favorite theme at court planning meetings is for judges to review cases faster. He said:
[A large backlog of cases] hinders his [the court's president] career. A good administrator is someone who doesn't have any specific problems, under whom work is done quickly. Qualitatively or not, that doesn't matter.242
Court presidents have ample means of exerting pressure on judges. For example, court presidents play a decisive role in deciding which judges are eligible for apartments or improved living conditions. Under the law on the status of judges, local authorities are obliged to provide apartment to judges who need them within six months after the judge's appointment or within six months of the moment the need for a better apartment arose. However, this rule is often not observed. Vladimir Mironov told Human Rights Watch:
If I work for an apartment, I need to fit into the system. If only I made a step to the right or to the left, that's an attempt to depart from my main goal and therefore I can no longer count on getting an apartment.243
Furthermore, court presidents can make the lives of judges miserable in various other ways. For example, the court leadership can assign the judge to very large cases and criticize him or her for considering too few cases per year.
In addition, in practice judges are not fully independent of the procuracy and police. Judge Sergei Pashin told Human Rights Watch the following:
For instance, if these agencies don't like a judge, defendants won't be brought to him [by police for court sessions]. Witnesses won't come,nobody will bring them in and deliver them. The next step is to accuse the judge of "red-taping," even though he isn't guilty of anything, and fire him from the judicial system.244
Several judges also said that procurators can make the life of a judge very unpleasant by writing protests against every decision the judge issues as a form of revenge for issuing an undesired decision. In such cases, the judge loses a lot of time defending his decisions and may face criticism from the court president for being the object of too many protests.
Some judges who have pressed for reform of the system to eliminate some of the pressures on judges have themselves been forced out of the judiciary or compelled to fight against dismissal. Sergei Pashin is the most prominent judge who was stripped of his status on seemingly political grounds; he was later reinstated after a major international and domestic campaign on his behalf. The Moscow Judicial Qualification Commission and later the High Qualification Commission found him guilty of discrediting the honor of judges by violating certain legal norms regarding decision-making on criminal cases. However, it is widely believed that Pashin was stripped of his status in fact for refusing to submit to the demands of Moscow City Court president Zoia Korneva, especially regarding verdicts, and in particular acquittals he had issued. The Supreme Court's civil chamber reinstated Pashin saying that, although Pashin had violated criminal procedure, it did not consider this violation to be intentional or discrediting the honor of the judiciary.
Proceedings to strip Vladimir Mironov, a judge on the Moscow City Court, of his status began the very day he testified in court in favor of Sergei Pashin during the hearings on the latter's case. The Moscow Qualification Commission stripped Mironov of his status less than a month later, claiming his health no longer allowed him to work as a judge. Although Mironov indeed has some healthproblems, he believes he is capable of working as a judge and is convinced that he was stripped of his status in retaliation for his support of Sergei Pashin. The High Qualification Commission and the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Moscow Qualification Commission on his case.
Elena Raskevich, formerly a judge on the Noginsk City Court, was stripped of her status in 1998 for a series of alleged violations that she considers to have been fabricated. Raskevich believes that she was in fact fired for her refusal to follow the court president's instructions. She told Human Rights Watch that her problems started when she acquitted Vadim Gesse, a conscientious objector, who had been imprisoned for refusing to perform military service. The court president later criticized her for being soft, she said, when she issued suspended prison sentences to two pensioners who had attempted to steal potatoes that belonged to the government.245
Pressure to Convict
[Public concern is] aroused by the court practice of passing unwarrantably soft sentences and even acquittals with regard to persons having committed grave crimes.... The already difficult work of the law-enforcement agencies, which is associated with enormous risks for life and health of their employees, is rendered pointless by this.
-President Boris Yeltsin in his speech to the State Duma in 1995246
Acquittals are rare in Russia. Only about one half of one percent of all criminal cases end in acquittal in court, although most judges and former judges interviewed by Human Rights Watch maintained that a large percentage of cases that are sent to court are badly investigated.247 It appears unlikely that the extraordinary number of convictions was the result of careful prosecution policies aimed at bringing only the best-supported cases to trial. Rather, members of the judiciary described to Human Rights Watch extraordinary pressure from law enforcement agencies, local, and federal authorities, and the media upon the judiciary to convict. Furthermore, procedural requirements are in place that discourage acquittals, including routine procuracy appeals to higher courts. Hence,they maintained, it was easier procedurally and less risky for judges to issue a guilty verdict.
Among other things, judges told Human Rights Watch that an acquittal demands much more work than a conviction. As a legal journalist for Novye izvestiia put it:
Every judge knows it. To write a guilty verdict is not difficult - you can base it on the indictment. That's what the majority of judges do.... The oversight institutions usually relate to guilty verdicts leniently: agree with it without looking. A not-guilty verdict is a different issue. The "[oversight] institutions" will review every word under a microscope.248
While the prevention of corrupt practices provides an important rationale for monitoring acquittals, this does not appear to be the primary objective of such monitoring. Judge Vasilii Martyshkin of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mordovia told Human Rights Watch:
I consider that in order to issue an acquittal you have to have great courage as a judge...everything must be justified.... You practically have to argue every piece of evidence in the indictment...and every nuance is a separate theme for discussion. Everything should be argued in such a way that there is not the slightest reason [for overturning the verdict].249
The procuracy, which prosecutes criminal cases in court, meticulously studies acquittals; if there is the slightest lack of clarity in the verdict, it launches protests requesting a higher court to overturn the decision.250 Possibly as a result of this, the Supreme Court overturned 33.1 percent of not-guilty verdicts in 1997 (29.4 percent in 1996) while it overturned only 2.5 percent of guilty verdicts (2.2 percent in 1996). The Supreme Court's practice thus strengthens what might be termed a no-acquittals doctrine.251 Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch was unable to discuss the Supreme Court's position on this issue as the chairman of the criminal chamber of the court refused to meet with Human Rights Watch representatives.
Apart from intense scrutiny from the procuracy, judges who acquit face often hysterical reactions from the police, media, and the court president. Several judges told Human Rights Watch that these critics react to the very news of an acquittal and do not even read the verdict. Acquittals are often followed by charges that the judge accepts bribes. Judge Martyshkin told Human Rights Watch about a case in which he acquitted several men of murder charges:
I read that verdict and ruling various times and thought: Did I really write all that? It was so detailed, it was watertight. They [the procuracy] wrote protests for half a year...the detective agencies, the press.... When you issue a death sentence, they say: "Oh, Martyshkin is such a great guy...," [but when you issue an acquittal,] they create such a fuss, this and that, possibly there is something unclean going on. That is what sometimes happens. And then, after half a year they say: "Ok, it's all correct."
Martyshkin told Human Rights Watch that by the time the procuracy abandons its attempts to have the verdict overturned, the judge's reputation has been irreparably compromised.
Until recently, judges frequently avoided issuing acquittals by sending criminal cases back to the procuracy for further investigation. Elena Topil'skaia, an employee of the procuracy of Leningrad province told Human Rights Watch that many judges send cases back for further investigation in the hope that the procuracy will close them:
The court is just afraid of taking a decision on the case, even though a qualified judge could take a decision, could investigate the evidence in the appropriate manner. Further investigation is a compromise. In more than 50 percent of the cases of further investigation, the judges don't have the courage to issue an acquittal, in other words, he doesn't want to be the final instance in the case, and sends [it] for further investigation so that it is the procuracy that closes the case.252
In 1997, 9.7 percent (9.4 percent in 1996) of all criminal cases were sent back for further investigation. Some cases were even sent back multiple times. For example, lawyer Genri Reznik told a press conference in February 1999 that he knew of a case that was sent back for further investigation thirteen times.253
In April 1999, a landmark Constitutional Court decision found provisions allowing judges to send cases back for further investigation to violate the presumption of innocence and several other constitutional guarantees. Under the provisions of the criminal procedure code declared unconstitutional, judges were obliged to conduct their own court investigation into the circumstances of the case and gather sufficient evidence to issue a verdict on the case. If the inquiry or preliminary investigation conducted before the court hearing was incomplete and the gaps in the investigation could not be filled during the court hearing, judges were, under the provisions challenged, supposed to send the case back to the procuracy for further investigation.254 This implied that, in case of doubt about the grounds of the accusation, judges had to return the case for further investigation, rather than issue an acquittal. The Constitutional Court held that this practice served only the interests of the prosecution:
[T]his allows for the correction of deficiencies of exactly the prosecutorial activity, when neither the procurator, nor the victim [of the crime] have removed doubts about the grounds of the accusation (including in court). For the sake of the defense return of the case for further investigation is not necessary because the defense can rightfully count on the court issuing a not-guilty verdict if the case has not been proven...or doubts exist about the accusation.
[I]f the criminal prosecution agencies could not prove the guilt of the defendant fully...this must lead-in the system of current criminal procedural norms in constitutional interpretation-to the issuing with respect to the defendant of a not-guilty verdict, or a guilty verdict which establishes the guilt of the defendant of less serious criminal activity.255
Hence, judges can no longer send criminal cases back for further investigation in case of insufficient evidence.0
The Constitutional Court decision is no doubt a major step in the right direction. However, under current circumstances it is likely to make convictions without sufficient evidence even more frequent. Before the Constitutional Court decision, many judges compromised by sentencing defendants whose guilt had not been proven, including those who claimed confessions were made under torture, to the term they had already spent in pretrial detention. Elena Raskevich, a former judge with the Noginsk City Court, approximately fifty kilometers east of Moscow, told Human Rights Watch that judges frequently adopt this practice because "this is acceptable for everyone."1 The procurator is satisfied because he has achieved another conviction, the defendant walks free out of the court room, and the judge successfully avoided issuing an acquittal or sending the case for further investigation. According to official information cited in a Council of Europe report, 65 percent of pretrial detainees are not sent to prison after trial because the sanction imposed is either noncustodial or the length of the sentence is shorter than the pretrial period already served.2
Crime Policy Reform
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the MVD departed briefly from the Soviet-era practice of basing crime policy on a formulaic plan for solving crimes. During the Soviet era, the state closely regulated the correlation between the number of crimes registered and the number of crimes solved, and every police officer had aquota for the number of crimes they were to solve per day.3 It appears that the Russian government returned to a similar crime policy around 1994, and with "the fight against crime" high on almost every politician's agenda, there is once again significant political pressure on law enforcement agencies to produce unrealistic crime-solving statistics. At the same time, strict mechanisms for quality control of police work apparently not exist. This appears to be a factor encouraging the use by police of such methods as torture, falsification of evidence, and the concealment of the crime.
Crime-solving statistics serve as the main indicator for the evaluation of law enforcement work.4 This system of appraisal applies at all levels of the police and apparently the procuracy. Local police chiefs pressure their officers, regional police chiefs pressure local police chiefs, and the federal government pressures regional police chiefs to turn in statistics showing a high level of cases solved. Pressure to produce good statistics is a factor that rewards police for seeking confessions, whether or not confessions are extracted through physical abuse. Oleg Egorov, a former police officer from Moscow province, told Human Rights Watch:
[I]f you came to work, you have to produce. [If] you deliver no results, you, as a specialist, did not succeed. But by what means you give the result, doesn't interest anyone. You have your crime solving rates, you don't have "hangers" [crimes that remain unsolved for a long time]-that suits everyone. It's desirable, of course, that there aren't too many complaints against you.5
President Boris Yeltsin's controversial decree 1226 on organized crime of June 1994, which gave police sweeping powers to detain suspects without presenting a warrant or charge, may have launched the most recent campaign forgood statistics.6 Since 1994, crime-solving statistics have soared every year.7 In April 1998, after a cabinet reshuffle, then-Acting Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko and then-Minister of Internal Affairs Sergei Stepashin announced plans to change the system of appraisal, stressing that the crime picture presented by the police should be more objective.8 These intentions, however, have been of no consequence. According to official figures, in 1998 and the first quarter of 1999, police solved respectively 74.4 and 73.8 percent of all registered crimes, up from 45.1 percent in 1993.9
The Ministry of Internal Affairs appears to issue an annual plan in some form in order to continuously improve crime-solving statistics. This "plan" reportedly contains instructions as to the number of criminal cases that must be solved per year and the number of people a police officer must detain per year. In its book, In Search of a Solution: Crime, Criminal Policy and Prison Facilities in the Former Soviet Union, the Moscow Center for Prison Reform refers to a copy of an internal letter from the deputy head of the Department of Internal Affairs of the Moscow Eastern Administrative District, written in December 1995, which states that every district militia officer must solve no fewer than two serious crimes per year and no fewer than sixteen crimes under certain articles of the criminal code, record 800 administrative violations, and keep an eye on no fewer than two released prisoners.
Mikhail Pashkin of a Moscow police union has described what he maintains is constant pressure at every level to meet crime-control quotas:
Formally, that list does not oblige anyone to anything but orally, the police chiefs will say at every meeting...how many people every...officer should detain, how many administrative protocols shouldbe filled out, how many criminal cases should be instituted; and that is per month. So this whole faulty scheme leads to the officer [trying to fulfill the plan] when he goes to work.10
According to Pashkin, because local police chiefs may sometimes be fired for failing to meet crime-solving targets, they consequently establish a "reign of terror"-by pressuring officers through their pocket books- at their precincts. They assign police officers the number of crimes they must solve and if they fail, police chiefs have sufficient means to make the lives of these police officers extremely difficult, including by threats to their income or indeed their livelihood.
Police officers resort to physical abuse to coerce confessions in the context of pressure to meet the demand for "solved" crimes. A former police officer from Irkutsk, who asked to remain anonymous, linked torture with the intense pressure to solve crimes in an interview with Human Rights Watch. Noting that his supervisors never discussed the inadmissability of physical abuse, he commented:
[T]hat would just have been funny. If they jail you, they jail you, but to discuss that "it is forbidden to work in such a way" is funny because you'll be forced to work like that anyway: you have to deliver your crime-solving statistics. What's the point of discussing it? Just that everyone sits down and laughs? And suddenly someone will say [to the police chief]: remember, you told me this and that [that torture is forbidden]? What is the chief going to say then? It's a stupid and funny theme. If they catch you-you go to jail. That's a lesson for you: Don't get caught."11
Another consequence of rigid crime policies is concealment of crimes that police believe they will not be able to solve: if such crimes do not figure in official statistics they will not affect the crime-solving rate. It has been widely acknowledged by police and political authorities that duty officers frequently fail to record reported crimes; Human Rights Watch found during an investigation intoRussia's state response to domestic violence and rape, for example, that police routinely refuse to register such reports.12
Absence of Public Monitoring over Places of Detention
In 1998, a group of well-known Russian legal experts prepared a draft law on public monitoring of places of detention at the request of State Duma deputies Valerii Borshchev and Saak Karapetian. This draft would enable certain members of the public to have unlimited access to all place of detention to investigate conditions of detention and treatment of detainees by officials. In particular, the draft provided for the appointment of so-called public inspectors who would have the right to visit police stations, IVSs, SIZOs, colonies, and other places of detention without prior warning, at any time. Their remit would be to ensure that the rights of all persons deprived of their freedom are fully observed, and to provide humanitarian aid. The draft law also called for the establishment of so-called trusted specialists (physicians, lawyers, psychologists) who would assist public inspectors in their work.
In September 1998, the State Duma Committee for Public and Religious Organizations sent the draft to the Russian government for comments. In late October, first deputy prime minister Yuri Masliukov rejected the concept of public monitoring altogether, calling it "unacceptable interference with the activities of state agencies and their officials." According to Masliukov, his position was shared by the Procuracy General and the Supreme Court.13
In a reply to Masliukov, Borshchev pointed out that the lack of transparency in the prison system and among police institutions is one of the main reasons for widespread torture and other violations of due process. He furthermore underscored that both the law on the police and prisons law allow for such public monitoring. Borshchev also criticized the government for lobbying for a draft law prepared by the Research and Investigative Institute of the Ministry of Interior that allows for "public control" following prior agreement with the administration of each place of detention, saying that such control "by special permission" cannot be called control.14
In May 1999, however, the State Duma adopted in first reading a slightly different draft law on public monitoring. Under the draft law, Russia's ombudsman would appoint up to fifty public inspectors, who would have the right to visit police stations, IVSs, SIZOs, colonies and other places of detention, without prior warning, at any time. Their remit would be to ensure that the rights of all persons deprived of their freedom are fully observed, and to provide humanitarian aid. In order for this draft to become law, the draft has to be approved by the State Duma in second and third reading, approved by the Council of the Federation, and signed by the Russian president.
A Predisposition to Brutal Methods
Closely linked to the failure to carry out sufficient institutional reform, the attitude of law-enforcement officials toward the rule of law, suspects, and defendants remains unreconstructed, a hold-over from the Soviet era. To many who work in the criminal justice system, the law is often merely an abstract guide that has only limited relevance to daily life, and that can be twisted and disregarded if circumstances demand so. At the highest level, President Boris Yeltsin disregarded Russia's constitution when he issued decree 1226, which allowed police to detain criminal suspects for thirty days without charge. Similarly, at an official meeting, Sergei Stepashin, then the head of the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (the successor to the KGB, and later renamed the Federal Security Service, FSB), commented on that decree saying that he was "for the violation of the rights of a person if that person is a criminal."15 Human Rights Watch found these views even among law-enforcement officials with otherwise progressive ideas about law-enforcement. For example, procuracy employee Ekaterina Zamiatina told Human Rights Watch:
officials of the procuracy sometimes are in a bind, they are forced, this is very unpleasant to admit, to deny that violence was used against defendants using any possible more or less plausible excuse in order for the case on the main charges to go on successfully to court. If it is established that violence was used during the investigation, even if there is other evidence, judges, of course, look at that very negatively and theresults of the investigation are put in doubt, [judges] may even acquit the person.16
She also gave a concrete example, from a murder case in 1995, in which police beat the defendants:
They beat their heads into the safe, threatened them, got a gun, promised to use it. The physical injuries were documented by a medical institution: upon reception at the SIZO, they were examined, of course.... And they said that the unlawful methods were used on them from the very beginning of the investigation up until trial. But the procuracy was forced to take a position saying that there was insufficient evidence that the police officers used force, because otherwise they wouldn't have convicted them for murder.17
A former judge told Human Rights Watch about a 1996 case against several racketeers in which she issued a guilty verdict, despite the fact that all evidence had been gathered through serious violations of the law, including through ill-treatment. She told Human Rights Watch that she issued a guilty verdict because she was convinced that the men were guilty, but gave them suspended sentences.18
According to Mara Poliakova, at the Procuracy General's Institute for Improving Qualifications of Top Personnel, the procurators she trained knew very well that they must exclude evidence received in violation of the law, but that they themselves presumed they were not expected not to apply these standards. Poliakova gave an example that she said she had used when training procurators; a procurator had made a significant mistake and the law demanded that the defendant would walk free. She said she asked the trainees what should be done: "[T]hey all simultaneously raised their hands and said that the case should be closed. I said: `And if in reality in your practice you get such a case, what would you do?'...They said that `of course, we would leave it as it is.'"19 Illustrating this in practice, the deputy procurator of Nizhnii Novgorod province told Human Rights Watch that if he would strictly apply the criminal procedure code whendeciding whether to send a criminal case to court, not a single case would be transferred.20
Among police, the attitude toward the law is still considerably worse: Many police officers do not know the law or do not care about it. For example, according to Moscow deputy procurator Yuri Sinel'shchikov, out of 311 detentions that were carried out by Moscow's organized crime unit in 1997, 238 were carried out in violation of the law.21 Former police officer Oleg Egorov told Human Rights Watch:
[Police officers] generally don't talk about the law. I can say that the criminal procedure code, as well as the criminal code, is not, as it should be, a Bible for the detective, including myself. We knew that there was such a book.
I knew that detention reports are written in accordance with article 122 [of the criminal procedure code] but didn't know it by heart, as I do now as a lawyer. Then, it was something far off. I knew that article 144 [of the criminal code] concerned theft, and 102 murder. I think most [police detectives know the law] at that level, there is no deep knowledge, not even the minimal necessary knowledge.22
A police detective from Irkutsk reflected a practical distinction between the ideal and the real world in a letter to the editor of the weekly newspaper Obshchaia gazeta:
Any authority, even the most democratic, is unthinkable without violence. Especially unthinkable is work in detective units without the use of tough, cruel, and brutal methods.... I read the newspapers and know all those beautiful words about humanism, presumption of innocence, and inviolability of the individual. But chattering is one thing, working a completely different one.23
The attitude among police officers, procuracy employees, and even judges toward criminal suspects and defendants is usually highly negative if not outright hostile. Hostility toward suspects weakens the presumption of innocence at high levels of the judicial system. Judge Sergei Pashin of the Moscow City Court described this:
At the qualification commission, when they stripped me of my status as a judge, an absolutely "monstrous fact" was discovered. [I had] taken a decision to release a person from [pretrial] custody, the case was on a Friday. I was on a holiday but came [to court] anyway to decide the matter.... And he was in the SIZO, he was in quarantine [hospital]. I phoned the administration [of the SIZO] to say that a decision had been taken [to release him], that he should urgently be taken to the SIZO so that he could be released that day. The first deputy president [of the Moscow City Court] told me: "I don't have a car...[to take the necessary documents to the SIZO]." I hired a taxi with my own money, gave the money to my secretary, she went to the SIZO. And on Friday he was free.
This fact was discovered at the qualification commission. And president Andreeva [said], "And why is it that a judge cares about a criminal?!" That is what she said.... Can you imagine, during his holiday he came and gave money so that they could release him.24233 The independent group was appointed in 1990 by the Supreme Soviet. 234 Article 123(3). The State Duma adopted a draft criminal procedure code in June 1997. Moscow Center for Prison Reform, Proekt Ugolovno-protsessual'nogo kodeksa RF - otzyvy iuristov, ekspertov, pravozashchitnikov (Moscow 1997). 235 Human Rights Watch interview with Anatolii Korotkov, Liudmila Kurovskaia, Viktor Kamyshanskii and Elena Duganova of the Procuracy General, Moscow, March 1, 1999. 236 Article 124 of the constitution states: The financing of courts is effected solely from the federal budget and must ensure the possibility of the complete and independent exercise of justice in accordance with a federal law. 237 Obshchaia gazeta, "Ne sudite, da ne sudimy budete" (Don't judge and you will not be judged), April 23 - 29, 1998, p. 13. 238 Peter J. Solomon and Todd S. Foglesong, "Courts and Transition in Russia: The Challenge of Judicial Reform," (University of Toronto, 1998) unpublished manuscript cited with permission of the authors. 239 Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Mironov, Moscow, April 13, 1999. 240 Article 16 of the criminal procedure code states that judges are independent and subordinate only to the law. 241 Transcript of the round table "Crisis in the Judiciary and the Judicial System in Russia," organized by the Glasnost' Foundation for Human Rights, September 29, 1998. 242 Human Rights Watch interview with Sergei Pashin, Moscow, January 28, 1999. 243 Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Mironov, Moscow, April 13, 1999. 244 Human Rights Watch interview with Sergei Pashin, Moscow, January 28, 1999. In 1993, the Plenum of the Supreme Court issued a decision in which it recommended qualification commissions (bodies made up of judges that have the power to recommend the appointment of judges and strip judges of their status) to view "red-taping" criminal cases as "an act discrediting the honor and dignity of the judge" and to strip such judges of their status (Decision 7 of the Plenum of the Supreme Court "On the terms of review of criminal and civil cases by the courts of the Russian Federation" of August 24, 1993). Judges often allow for, or cause, unjustifiably long delays in reviewing criminal cases by constantly postponing hearings, often for months at a time, and in some cases reached a verdict only several years after the case was transferred to court. In Russian, this practice is referred to as "volokita," or "red-taping." 245 Human Rights Watch interview with Elena Raskevich, Moscow, July 9, 1998. 246 Rossiiskaia gazeta February 17, 1995, p. 7. 247 "Rabota sudov Rossiiskoi Federatsii v 1997 godu" (The work of courts of the Russian Federation in 1997), in: Rossiiskaia iustitsiia [Russian justice], no. 6, 1998, p. 56. 248 Georgii Tsel'ms, "Opravdatel'nyi prigovor, eto vsegda chudo - iz sta podsudimykh opravdyvaetsia tol'ko odin" (An acquittal is always a miracle - out of one hundred defendants only one is acquitted), Novye izvestiia, September 18, 1998, p. 7. 249 Human Rights Watch interview with Vasilii Martyshkin, Moscow, March 28, 1999. 250 Judgments in trials of first instance are not final. Therefore, appeals in higher courts cannot be considered to be double jeopardy. 251 "Rabota sudov Rossiiskoi Federatsii v 1997 godu" (The work of the courts of the Russian Federation in 1997), in: Rossiiskaia iustitsiia, No. 6, 1998, p. 57. 252 Human Rights Watch interview with Elena Topil'skaia, St. Petersburg, July 15, 1998. 253 Genri Reznik speaking at a press conference about the case of Alexander Nikitin, February 3, 1999, National Press Institute, Moscow. 254 Article 232(1) of the criminal procedure code states that: A judge sends a case for further investigation in the following cases: 1) Insufficiency of the conducted inquiry or preliminary investigation, which cannot be corrected during the court hearing. 255 For the full Constitutional Court decision, see Rossiiskaia gazeta, April 27, 1999, p. 4. 0 Russia's Constitutional Court can rule only on provisions that are specifically mentioned in complaints it receives. In the current case, the court was asked to decide on the constitutionality of provisions one and three of article 232 of the criminal procedure code, both of which it found to violate the constitution. It did not rule on provisions two, four and five, which allow judges to send cases back for further investigation if norms of criminal procedure law have been seriously violated during the inquiry or preliminary investigation, or if there are grounds to prosecute other persons on the case if they cannot be prosecuted separately, or if the case has incorrectly been joined with or separated from another case (other cases). The court may rule on the constitutionality of these provisions if it receives a complaint dealing specifically with them, provided all other formal requirements have been met. 1 Human Rights Watch interview with Elena Raskevich, Moscow, July 9, 1998. 2 Rudolf Bindig and Ernst Muhlemann, Report on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by the Russian Federation (Strasbourg: The Council of Europe, June 2, 1998), paragraph 47. 3 In the eyes of the police, a crime is considered to be solved, and appears in the statistics of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as such, as soon as the criminal investigation has been finalized, an indictment been written, and the case has been submitted to the procurator for approval and transfer to court. 4 Maksim Glikin observes in his book that the regions with the most authoritarian leaders produce the best statistics: Kursk province, with governor Alexander Rutskoi- 84.4 percent and the Republic of Ingushetiia of President Ruslan Aushev-90.4 percent. Maksim Glikin, Militisiia I bespredel, p. 258. 5 Human Rights Watch interview with Oleg Egorov, April 21, 1999. "Oleg Egorov" is not the man's real name. 6 Presidential decree 1226 of June 14, 1994, On Urgent Measures to Defend the Population from Banditry and Other Manifestations of Organized Crime. This decree, which was issued on June 14, 1994, allowed police to detain an individual suspected of links to organized crime for up to thirty days without an arrest warrant or formal charge. President Yeltsin rescinded the decree in the summer of 1998. 7 Official statistics on crime-solving rates (the ratio: of registered crimes vs. crimes on which the criminal investigation has ended in an indictment) showed a crime-solving rate of 84.3 percent in 1986 at the beginning of perestroika, when rigid plans for solving crimes existed. The late 1980s showed a continuous drop in crime-solving rates; in 1993, official statistics showed that 45.1 percent of registered crimes was solved. Since then, the rates have gone up again; In 1998, the Ministry of Internal Affairs claimed that 74.4 percent of registered crimes was solved. 8 NTV Segodnia news program, Moscow, cited in WNC, April 14, 1998. 9 See the MVD's website: http://www.mvdinform.ru/gic/home.htm 10 Human Rights Watch interview with Mikhail Pashkin, Moscow, February 25, 1999. 11 Human Rights Watch interview with former police officer Sasha Sidorov, April 9, 1998, Irkutsk. "Sasha Sidorov" is not the man's real name. Maksim Glikin estimates that if all crimes that are currently concealed by police would be registered, crime-solving statistics would fall to around 14 percent, and asserts that rates would fall further if all confessions that were received under torture were excluded. 12 Human Rights Watch, "Russia: Too Little, Too Late: State Response to Violence Against Women," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 9, no.13 (D), December 1997. See also, Glikin, Militsiia i bespredel, pp. 265, 266. 13 Letter from Yuri Masliukov to Gennadii Seleznev dated October 27, 1998, No. 5132 p. P4. 14 Letter from Valerii Borshchev to Yuri Masliukov dated November 5, 1998, No. 1791/98. 15 V. Osin, "Neotlozhka protiv banditov" (Urgent action against bandits), Rossiiskaia gazeta, June 24, 1994. 16 Human Rights Watch interview with Ekaterina Zamiatina, July 15, 1998. "Ekaterina Zamiatina" is not the woman's real name. 17 Ibid. 18 Human Rights Watch interview with Natalia Ivanova, July 9, 1998. "Natalia Ivanova" is not the woman's real name. 19 Human Rights Watch interview with Mara Poliakova, February 3, 1999, Moscow. 20 Human Rights Watch interview with Vladimir Nikolaev, October 23, 1997, Nizhnii Novgorod. 21 Yuri Sinel'shchikov, "Nezakonnoe zaderzhanie," Zakonnost', no. 2, 1999, p. 9. 22 Human Rights Watch interview with Oleg Egorov, April 21, 1999. "Oleg Egorov" is not the man's real name. 23 Letter published in Obshchaia gazeta, April 9-15, 1998, p. 4. 24 Human Rights Watch interview with Sergei Pashin, January 28, 1999, Moscow.