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The Kharkov Bar

The Attribute of Femida

is127 Years Old !


Герб города Харькова


The Administration of Justice in Kharkov

As is know Kharkov is situated in the north-east part of Ukraine.

The north, east and centre of Ukraine were part of the Russian Empire since XVI century.

The formation and development of a true state system, based on fixed law code, in Kharkov region was much affected by the fact that it was part of the Russian empire. The formation and development of the Bar in its classical form as a primary judicial body of the state was connected with the formation and development of the Bar of Russian Empire as a whole.

As he undertook to change the judicial system of the Russian Empire, Alexander II wrote in his decree to the governmental senate, in 1864, that the object of the new judicial regulations is "... to establish in Russia a speedy, true, merciful and equal court for all its subjects, to elevate the judicial power, to provide it with true independence and in general to establish in people the reverence towards the law without which it is impossible to have civil welfare and which should always guide every member of the society from the lowest one to the highest". The definition of the purpose of the court is simple, clear, exact and applicable to any time and any type of democratically organised society.

The administration of the court power in Russia in XVIII - XIX centuries was divided among court districts. Each court district was named according to its biggest constituent administrative region. The district included the territories of other administrative regions so the people would not be discriminated according to their nationality thus preventing emergence of national conflicts. The power of the district of the Kharkov court chamber spread over the territory of the modern day Kharkov, Sumy, Poltava, Dnepropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporozhye, Lugan regions of Ukraine, and Belgorod, Kursk, Orel, and Voronezh regions of Russia.

The first jury to be summoned in Russian Empire was in Saint-Petersburg on 2 May 1866, the second was in Moscow on 16 September 1866, and the third - on 6 May 1874 - was opened in the district of Kharkov court chamber. The first chairman of the jury to be elected in Kharkov court chamber was M. V. Zhuchenko, the deputy charmain was elected S. F. Moroshkin, the jury members were A. N. Zaytsev, I. Y. Kitov, N. G. Barsuk, A. S. Lebedev, and F. M. Kosmachev.

From 1886 to 1913 the number of the jury members of the district of the Kharkov court chamber rose form 168 to 339, and the number of jury helpers from 53 to 461.

The last time the body of the jury of the district of the Kharkov court chamber according to "The Code of Judicial Regulations" was elected before the World War I in 1914 from among well known Kharkov advocates. The members of the body were: the chairman of the jury S. A. Krylov, the deputy chairman N. N. Poznansky, the members of the jury A. M. Alexandrov, I. E. Bulgakov, N. S. Karinsky, V. V. Dashkevich, R. I. Paderevsky, A. N. Pereverzev, V. A. Rozen, F. V. Spassky, A. S. Stanislavsky.

The pre-Revolutionary judicial system in the Russian Empire complied with world and European standards. It consisted of three links - first instance courts, appeal courts and court of cassation. Each one of these in its turn consisted of public court (the jury court) and the professional justice court. The jury members known in common parlance as "judges of conscience" pronounced sentences in all cases where the penalty was imprisonment. The professional courts decided the magnitude of the punishment for the guilty or released those who were found not guilty by the jury.

By the modern standards this is considered to be the best way of organising the court chamber system in judicial democracy and justice (the goal of the courts on the territory of CIS for more than 80 years now). The development of court eloquence and true lawyer's skill, the emergence of real professionals in the court halls is only possible in a jury based court system. This is evident by the experience of the courts in the world's most developed countries and in our country in the past.

The 1917 revolution destroyed the old court system. The present court system was born in the depths of the 1936 Stalin's constitution as part of the oppressive system of the Soviet state, designed to fight with its enemies and with minor changes still working today. The usual ratio of acquittals to the total number of criminal cases bough to court in any truly democratic country is 30% to 50%. A verdict of "not guilty" in post-Soviet Ukraine is an unprecedented and isolated event.

From 1918 and until the end of 1922 the institute of advocacy as such on the territory of Kharkov region did not exist. The ad hoc committees themselves investigated the cases, pronounced sentences and effected punishment.

We cannot definitely say what prompted the authorities to reanimate the Bar. Probably the reason was that the Soviet state should have a democratic image in the eyes of the world's community, and so on the 2nd of October 1922 the central government body of Soviet Ukraine issued "The Regulation of the Bar in Ukrainian SSR", and on the 3rd of March 1923 the Regional Executive Committee appointed 100 strong the Kharkov Regional Board of Advocates. Its members were outstanding advocates of pre-Revolutionary period B. P. Kulikov, N. N. Poznansky and others. However, for the most part it consisted of people without law degree or even without education at all, but dedicated to the Revolution.

The long period since early 1920's till late 1940's were the years of fierce internal fight against the class enemies of the state of workers and farmers. There was no question of observing human rights or of any human rights at all. The most part of "public enemy" cases were conducted by special non-judicial bodies without any presence of either defence or prosecution. The penalty was usually of one type - death by firing squad (sometimes disguised as "10 years imprisonment without the right of correspondence" which actually was the same as death by firing squad).

Many pre-Revolution period advocates fell victims of Stalin's repression policy during 1930's. Among them were - Alexandrov A. M. who had led the defence of the prosecuted in the notorious case of the Lubotin pogrom. (As a result of repercussions of the first Russian revolution of 1905 and the effects that it had on Kharkov, there was a bloody scuffle in Lubotin between local population and the army units when the throng ravaged the local railway station. At that time this case was much spoken about throughout the whole of Russia.) Many of the accused were absolved, the rest were sentenced to minor penalties. Alexandrov was able to convince the court that the authorities reduced the people to such a miserable state that they had to take up the arms. Y. P. Poltavtsev, an outstanding pre-war Kharkov advocate, the member of the Kharkov and the Moscow Bar in 1930's - 1940's, fell victim of Stalin's repression policy during 1950's. He spent many years in prison because of a libel accusation and was rehabilitated in his old age as late as the end of 1980's. These people could defend others but could not defend themselves.

On 16 August 1939 the USSR government issued "The Regulations of the Bar of the USSR" in order to demonstrate the world society the democracy of the Soviet court system, however, because of the war the activities of the Bar on the occupied territories (including the territory of the Kharkov region) were suspended.

The members of the post-War Kharkov Bar were many participants of the War. Among them holders of the title of Soviet Union Hero A. M. Nazarov, and G. Z. Mats. (The member of the Kharkov Bar A. M. Nazarov celebrated the 55 anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.) We also want to pay homage to late advocates of the first postwar generation G. M. Rivkin, A. D. Kagan, G. M. Nevelsky, B. Y. Zebel, F. I. Ilyev and many others.

On 25 September 1962 the Supreme Soviet of the Ukrainian SSR issued the new "Regulation on the Bar". Since that time two schools for raising advocates' skill started under the auspices of the Presidium of Kharkov Regional Bar - the School of Young Advocates and the School of Court Speech. All advocates who entered the Bar since 1950's till 1990's studied their profession or raised their professional skill in them. The greates specialists of the Kharkov Bar S. Y. Samarskaya, S. K. Vetkin, M. I. Bron, G. M. Gorodetsky, I. G. Gugel, E. L. Itskov plentifully and assiduously worked and still work in these schools.

The organisational structure of the Bar has changed considerably as a result of the Law "Of the Bar" of Ukraine passed by the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine on 22 December 1992. The law offers the advocates the right to form firms of advocates, offices, unions or to work alone. As a result many regional advocate unions in Ukraine ceased to exist, which was not a factor to strengthen the Bar as an integral state institution of court defence.

Kharkov advocates managed to save their association. The regional Bar today unites near 500, who continue to keep and further develop the traditions of the old classical Bar. Most of the new lawyers who get their advocate's licence enter the Bar which is not the case in other regions of Ukraine. The fellowship spirit of the Kharkov school of advocates is invisibly present in the minds of modern advocates, lives and unites them strengthening their ties.

Kharkov advocates believe that in Ukraine's the classical - truly independent, honest and just court system will revive, a trusted court system, where people will turn to seek defence of their rights and freedoms. It will also raise the importance of the Bar, in whose ranks work tens and hundreds of real professionals, whose help is needed by the people.


After the article by advocate A. Zadneprovsky, in "Legal Kharkov 2000". № 2 "Advocates of Kharkov Region"
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