President Dmitry Medvedev has signed into law amendments to legislation on economic crimes that should increase the use of bail for suspects awaiting trial and cut abuse of the system, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.
The amendments set a minimum bail of 100,000 rubles ($3,300) for minor offenses and 500,000 rubles ($16,600) for serious crimes. Securities and real estate will also be accepted as bail.
The changes also increase six-fold, to 1.5 million rubles ($50,000) and 6 million rubles ($200,000), the amount of damage inflicted by serious and very serious economic crimes. It is hoped that this will cut the number of arrests on petty charges and streamline the legal process.
Bail is rarely used in Russia, where suspects can spend two or three years in detention pending trial. Defense lawyers and rights groups say the harsh conditions in pre-trial detention centers are used by law-enforcement officials to intimidate suspects.
Last November, a lawyer representing a London-based hedge fund died in a Moscow jail while awaiting trial on tax evasion charges. Supporters say Sergei Magnitsky was denied access to medical treatment.
Following that and a series of other law-enforcement scandals last year, Medvedev stepped up efforts to reform Russia's criminal justice system.
MOSCOW, April 7 (RIA Novosti)