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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Courts to Begin Posting Rulings Online

MTA woman making a call in the Moscow City Court, which with other courts must post rulings online from Thursday.

Most court rulings must be published online in their entirety, including the names of all parties involved, except witnesses, from Thursday in an initiative that proponents say will improve transparency at the expense of privacy.

The change, introduced in a law signed in 2008, is one of the first steps in a campaign against "legal nihilism" launched by Dmitry Medvedev at the start of his presidency.

Court rulings, which must not be published before they come into force, are to provide the names of all lawyers, prosecutors, defendants and judges involved in trials.

The law makes exceptions for cases dealing with classified information, state security, adoptions, family disputes, sexual abuse, minors, forced psychological treatment and the disabled.

About 5 million rulings will be published by the end of the year, and the number will grow to 10.6 million next year, the RAPSI legal news agency reported, citing the Supreme Court.

The authorities have opened about 9,000 web sites where courts are supposed to publish their rulings.

In a separate bid for transparency, the presidium of the Supreme Arbitration Court began releasing online videos of its hearings in June. The service is currently limited to pre-recorded videos but will include live broadcasts this fall.

Yelena Golubeva, director of the St. Petersburg-based Institute for Information Freedom Development, said the new legislation was important for the court system and society.

"Now it will be hard to hide some unlawful decision because anyone can read it," she said.

Golubeva said the law poses no serious threat to privacy because the courts will only publish the names of participants, not passport data and addresses.

But Dmitry Agranovsky, a prominent lawyer, criticized the law as "absolutely unethical."

"Strangers shouldn't intrude into people's private life," Agranovsky told The Moscow Times. "All this publicity will amount to additional punishment for defendants who have already suffered enough."

Golubeva said a lot will depend on how the law will be implemented. The concern is warranted, considering gaffes such as a blunder by the Supreme Arbitration Court last year when it published a ruling ahead of the hearing where it was supposed to be handed down. The incident was played down as a “mistake.”

Court marshals want to guard courts around the clock during high-profile trials, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

Most court buildings are currently guarded by police officers at night, but the Federal Court Marshals Service said it wants to take over the job during the most important cases despite a lack of staff.