11 September 2020
Pictured: Genri Reznik; lawyer, vice president of the Russian Federal Bar Association, first vice president of the Moscow Bar Association, member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, and member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights.
Olga Egorova has retired from the position of chair of the Moscow City Court where she headed the capital’s judicial system for 20 years. How will her epoch be remembered, and what can we expect from the new chair, someone whose background lies in the military justice system?
The chair of Moscow City Court, Olga Egorova, submitted her resignation to be considered by the Higher Qualification College of Judges of the Russian Federation on the 22nd September. So far Mikahil Ptitsyn is the only candidate for her position as head of the largest court in the Russian Federation, a system which unites the capital’s 35 district courts under its wing. However, the head of the Southern District Military Court, a judge with 27 years’ experience, has already received the support of the Supreme Court and Judicial Council.
A survey of experts by Business FM didn’t find a definitive consensus on the ‘Egorova Epoch’. During her time, the City Court failed to shake off the nickname of ‘Rubber Stamp.’ However, during the period Olga was working, the justice system became more transparent: a press service was established at Moscow City Court and aids to the chair of each of the capital’s 35 district courts were given the role of press secretary.
Genri Reznik, the patriarch of Russia’s lawyers, former head of the Moscow Bar Association for 13 years and current first vice president of the Moscow Bar Association, rather nobly refrained from evaluating the tenure of Olga Egorova: ‘Olga Aleksandrovna is a woman, and it would be impolite for me to talk about her so personally.’
The lawyer also mentioned the label of ‘Rubber Stamp’ was given to Moscow City Court while Olga Egorova was still merely a student: ‘This nickname “Rubber Stamp” by the way, is a title I agree with. But it was attached to the courts in the ’70s and therefore it makes little sense to connect Egorova with it.’
In his opinion, the same title is applicable to all the country’s regional courts. However, it is in Moscow above all where the largest number of political and high-profile trials are held, and therefore the close attention paid to the person at the helm of the largest court of the Federation is quite understandable: ‘In political cases, courts lose any trace of judicial independence,’ Reznik said. ‘This applies to any court handling political cases.’
Reznik also refrained from commenting on the character of the future chairof Moscow City Court, citing the fact he didn’t personally know Mikhail Ptitsyn. However, he did say that lawyers always rated the military justice system higher than ‘civilian judges.’
Translated by Fergus Wright