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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Reforming the Bear
First broadcast October 2005
Vladimir Putin

The former Soviet Union's reputation for rough justice was seemingly tackled head-on by Russia's President Vladimir Putin - and yet rumours of "telephone justice" and corruption persist.

Angus Roxburgh ventures behind the gleaming fašade of the Russian Federation's much-trumpeted and wide-ranging judicial reform programme to investigate the depth of change actually taking place.

By looking closely at the complex relationships between the law, business and government, he finds a society in transition battling with the cultural shift from a totalitarian to a democratic state. Russia is at a crossroads. Which way will it turn?

Part One: Brave New World?

In this programme, Angus Roxburgh tackles key figures in the government and the judiciary about access to justice, the reintroduction of jury trials - last held in Russia under the Tsars - and the independence of the judiciary.

He reviews the massive overhaul of court houses from Moscow to Vladivostok, the replacement of the notorious iron cages used for defendants in criminal trials, and the revolutionary effects of computerisation on judicial decision making.

The depth and breadth of reform seems impressive. But why is there an increasing queue of cases against Russia waiting to be heard in Strasbourg? And are the world's concerns about the Russian government's handling of the Yukos case - involving billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky - justified?

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