The right to freedom and personal inviolability is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution. Article 22 of the Constitution states that arrest or detention shall be authorized by a judicial ruling. Without a judicial ruling no person may be subjected to detention for a period of more than forty-eight hours. The legal grounds for taking and holding a criminal suspect or an accused individual in detention are defined by the Code of Criminal Procedure, which entered into force on July 1, 2002.
Detention as a measure of restraint in regard to the person accused or suspected of committing a crime can be selected by a prosecutor, investigator, or a person conducting the inquiry if there is a chance that this individual may obstruct the investigation, hide from the authorities, continue his criminal activities, or threaten witnesses and other participants of the investigation process. Detention is only allowed in cases when the minimum punishment established by a law for a crime an individual is suspected or accused of is no less than two-year imprisonment. In such cases, the official who conducts the inquiry, the prosecutor or an investigator, shall submit a detention request to the judge for judicial approval of the detention order no later than eight hours before the expiration of the detention period. The request shall be resolved by an individual judge during in camera hearings within eight hours after receipt of the request. The detainee, prosecutor, and defense attorney, if the latter is retained, shall be present. The detention order can be issued in absentia only if the suspect/accused is reported for an international search. The detainee is allowed to provide explanations to the judge. After hearings, which last about twenty to thirty minutes, the judge decides whether to authorize the detention, to deny the detention request and release the individual, or to extend the detention for the next seventy-two hours in order to let the investigator build the case for the next detention hearings. The judge’s ruling can be appealed to the higher court within three days.
During the investigation, the detention cannot exceed two months, and during the court trial it should be no longer than six months. The Code of Criminal Procedure (arts. 109, 255), however, provides for the possibility of extending the detention periodically through a ruling of the court; the total term of detention, however, cannot exceed two years. During the trial, the detention is not allowed for a term longer than six months, but it can be indefinitely extended for a three-month period each time.
Amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure, adopted in 2008, did not affect the rights or status of individuals during the pretrial detention period.
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Prepared by Peter Roudik, Senior Foreign Law Specialist
May 2007/ Updated March 2009
- Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, adopted by Federal Law No. 174-FZ, ROSSIISKAIA GAZETA [government-owned daily newspaper, official publication] No. 249, Dec. 22, 2001. [Back to Text]
Last Updated: 08/01/2012