Lukin Criticizes the Courts

Human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said his efforts to defend citizens' rights was being hampered by courts that lack independence and that issue poor rulings.

In an interview published Friday in government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Lukin singled out Moscow courts for delaying his work.

"Moscow courts ... believe that the ombudsman has no right to defend citizens' rights in court," Lukin said.

He cited as an example a suit he tried to file against the city transportation committee over the fact that tickets for aboveground transport are cheaper when purchased at a ticket booth than on a bus, trolleybus or tram. "This is a violation of the rights of Muscovites and guests in the capital," Lukin said.

Both the Presnensky District Court and the Moscow City Court refused to hear the case, saying a human rights ombudsman "should initiate a parliamentary investigation and not go to court," Lukin said.

Lukin said he had filed a complaint with the Supreme Court, which he hopes can resolve the issue.

Spokespeople for the Moscow City Court and the Presnensky District Court said Friday that they could not immediately comment.

Red tape, a lack of independence and poor rulings are other problems in the country's judicial system, Lukin said.

This, he said, has led people to lose faith in the system.

"My desk is covered with complaints concerning courts decisions," Lukin said.