Legal Agencies of the Executive Branch

The Ministry of Justice of Russia exercises important coordinating functions in the legal field, but it is not a law enforcement agency like the US Department of Justice. It is an executive agency that provides administrative support for the courts with t he formally stated purpose of improving the administration of justice and making judicial administration more efficient. In this respect, its functions are similar to those of the Federal Judicial Center and the Administrative Office of the US Courts.

There is now a move afoot from the courts to make themselves more independent from the executive branch, and henceforth from the Ministry. The Ministry is directly involved in systemization and codification of the laws. It directs the activities of notari al and official registry offices, forensic centers and laboratories. The Ministry promotes the development of legal science. The Ministry trains legal personnel for courts and runs courses of continuing legal education for judges.

In occasional competition with the Ministry is an extra-constitutional body established approximately three years ago that functions as advisor to the President on legal policy. It is called the State Legal Department of the President, abbreviated in Russ ian GPU. This organization promulgates draft legislation and reviews the drafts of other organizations in order to make recommendations to the President. Since its formation it has become very active in issues involving reform of the judiciary and crimina l law. It was an instrumental player in the reintroduction of jury trials that was discussed earlier in this memo.

Law enforcement functions are performed by the Procurator General's Office (procuratura) with subordinate agencies in cities and provinces, by the Ministry of Internal Affairs with subordinate agencies, and by the Federal Counterintelligence Service (form er sized down counterintelligence department of the dismembered KGB). The Procurator's office supervises the legality in the activities of all law enforcement agencies, investigates crimes and prosecutes criminals.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs is the headquarters of all police agencies (called "militia" in Russia), but this ministry also runs correctional institutions and fire forces, and performs some administrative functions. The Federal Counterintelligence Se rvice is responsible for counterintelligence work, and it also investigates (jointly with other agencies or separately) organized crime and terrorist acts.

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