During the conference on 18 September 2020 on the topic of “Problems, challenges and perspectives of city management under current framework conditions” at the offices of the Union of Russian Cities (Photo: Union of Russian Cities)
During the conference on 18 September 2020 on the topic of “Problems, challenges and perspectives of city management under current framework conditions” at the offices of the Union of Russian Cities (Photo: Union of Russian Cities)

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point

The political situation in Russia and the foreign policy tensions in its relationship with the EU did not improve significantly in 2020, especially since the EU imposed new sanctions after an attack on a government critic.

A referendum was held in early July 2020 to legitimise a constitutional amendment, after the Russian Parliament and Constitutional Court had already approved the draft in March 2020. Among other things, the reform allows the president to campaign for two further terms, which means he could remain in office until 2036. Both the constitutional amendment and the organisation of the referendum were criticised at home and abroad.

Protests against the arrest and removal of a freely elected governor began in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk in July 2020 and have continued to this day.

Overall Concept 

IRZ switched its planned face-to-face events to an online format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also managed to accommodate an increased number of requests for translated laws. For example, the translations of the Federal Lawyers’ Act and the Internet Auction Act were revised and updated. In addition, legal expertise and their translations were given greater consideration this year.

As in the years before, cooperation prioritises the issues of civil and commercial law, with a particular focus on intellectual property. Other important topics include local self-administration, medical law and extensive areas of professional law, especially in regard to lawyers, the notarial system and patent attorneys.

Another significant aspect is to continue working with young professionals and law students within the framework of the cooperation with the legal academies at the Ministry of Justice and the Russian School of Private Law under the President of the Russian Federation. Besides online seminars and virtual roundtable discussions, IRZ again offered its course in legal terminology, some of it by video conference, and provided students with access to German legal literature during the reporting year.

Some of this work is organised as part of the initiative for legal cooperation supported by the Federal Foreign Office.

Focus of Activity in 2020

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Scientific-practical online conference “Insurance medicine: legal problems in theory and practice during the pandemic” in Izhevsk
  • “beck-online” access for professors, doctoral students and undergraduates at the Russian School of Private Law under the President of the Russian Federation
  • International theoretical and practical online conference “Intellectual property rights: challenges of the XXIst century” in Tomsk
  • Online conference “Law and the digital state” in St. Petersburg
  • Online roundtable discussion on the topic of “Problems of modern civil law and civil procedural law”
  • Online lecture by German experts on civil law for students, magistrates and representatives of academia

Administration of Justice 

  • Online conference “Limits of critical statements by German and Russian lawyers in the fight for justice” with the Russian Federal Bar Association and the German Federal Bar in Berlin and Moscow

Criminal and Penitentiary Law 

  • Conference “Combating corruption and the informal economy: issues concerning the effectiveness of legal instruments” in St. Petersburg

Public Law

  • International online roundtable “Problems, challenges and perspectives of urban management under the current circumstances”
  • Online seminar on the topic of “Russia’s cities after the corona crisis: changes in lifestyle, economic organisation and infrastructure development”
  • Online lectures by German experts on the topic of “Urban development” for students of the Master’s programme “Project management in regional development and planning” at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA)

Basic and Further Training

  • Language course “Translation of German legal texts” for Russian lawyers at the School of Private Law in Moscow
  • International scientific-practical online conference on “The dissemination of legal information and legal transformation in the digital age” in Moscow
  • Russian-German online conference “Current problems in the teaching of lawyers and legal studies in Russia and Germany” in Makhachkala

Outlook

Intense cooperation will continue in 2021, both bilaterally and with project grant, despite the difficulties imposed by the pandemic. IRZ plans to hold many of the cancelled measures at a later date. There are plans to resume the further training event on the Russian judiciary and Russian law for German judges and public prosecutors at the German Judicial Academy in Wustrau. Civil and commercial law, law of lawyers and notary law will remain as the important legal areas for cooperation. Moreover, the IRZ will push ahead with its efforts to promote effective enforcement, to strengthen local self-administration and with various basic and further training measures.