[FPSPACE] Re: Russia: independent TV channel ordered to close

Mikhail Yakushev m.yakushev@globalone.ru
Tue, 15 Jan 2002 10:06:39 +0300

I am not sure, whether it is a right place to discuss such off-topic issues,
but being a Russian national, being outer space lawyer and being ashamed of all
that developments, I dare to give some comments.
The Russian legal system, and in particular, court system is fairly ambigous
and contradictory. Instead of having a unified court system like in most
countries (or dual - federal and state courts like in the U.S., or "normal"
system plus specialized courts like in Germany), Russia has at least three
court systems - general, "arbitration", and "constitution". Technically, there
will be also the fourth one - "local", but it is in process of creation.
Theoretically there is a difference of competence of all these courts. Be
careful - wrong translations or wrong names should not mislead you.
"Arbitration" court in Russia has nothing to see with "normal"
arbitration/mediation process. It is a typical state court, with certain
speciality in procedural issues, and (in principle) specialized in the legal
conflicts between the commercial entities.  - "Arbitration" dates back to the
old Soviet era, where such courts also existed as arbitration commissions for
state-owned enterprizes, but such "arbtitration" bodies were and are an
integral part of a political system, not the system of business mediation. -
In practice all these ideas do not work properly. Very often the federal
"Constitutional" court examines pure taxation problems, the Supreme Court -
irregularities during local elections etc.
In case of the independent media the political involvement is evident. After
the decision was taken to return the ambiguos issue back to the lower court,
one of the members of the High "Arbitration" court, closely linked with the
state-owned oil companies, and a former counsel of one of such companies,
"protested" against such decision. Contrary to the usual lengthy procedures of
Russian litigation, everything was done _extremely_ quickly, during the first
working day after the New Year Party. After that the "Presidium" of the High
"Arbitration" Court reversed the decision of its Chamber taken last year, and
the last independent Russian TV is to be closed soon.
Russian Supreme Courts consist of huge number of "judges". U.S.Supreme Court is
formed by nine members, while in Russia the "Constitutional" court consists of
19, Supreme Court and High "Arbitration" Court - of several dozens (or even
hundreds) each. Such complicated structrure eases the control over the
decisions taken by the "Chambers" of such Courts, bearing the same name.
It is a pity, but such decisions show that there is no civilized legal system
in Russia, and no one can trust their decisions. It is a pity.
Michael Yakushev

Robert G Kennedy III wrote:

> I'm confused - I thought another court, a higher court than this one, had
> reversed the ruling, or anyway deemed it unconstitutional and returned it
> to the lower court.  If this decision is in fact the lower court's *second*
> ruling, why didn't the article mention that?
> Also, isn't "arbitration" and "court" a contradiction in terms? THe whole
> point of the arbitration process over here is to bypass lengthy litigation.
> Furthermore, arbitration results are only as binding as the strength of the
> underlying respect for contracts, whereas court judgements are backed up by
> the full power of the State.
> --
> Robert Kennedy, PE
> http://www.ultimax.com
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