Opponents of the new Criminal-Procedural Code, which the Duma
is expected to pass in a third reading soon, launched another
attack yesterday. Sergei Popov of the Yabloko faction, deputy
chairman of the Duma Committee for State-Building, called the
Code a "police code". Some of its items and provisions
will lead to a further deterioration in the situation with civil
rights and liberties. Others impede investigation and leave the
The structures that want the new Criminal-Procedural Code passed
did their best to complicate even the reading of the document.
Duma deputies received smeared copies of the Code in deliberately
Nevertheless, opponents of the document did notice some truly
amazing innovations stipulated by the Code. The Criminal-Procedural
Code proclaims the presumption of innocence and at the same time
demands that suspects should prove they were not involved in the
crime. It postpones for 24 hours consultation with a lawyer, which
is required instantly by the Constitution. It isn't hard to see
that this is ample time for the law enforcement agencies to "persuade"
a suspect to confess everything. Experience shows that judges
mostly pay attention to the records of the first interrogations
and explanations. Articles 26 and 28 state that people with a
criminal record (even if wrongly accused!) have fewer rights than
people detained for the first time.