Moscow, April 14 - RAPSI. A new law will grant the constituents of the Russian Federation the right to provide free legal aid, Sergei Pchelintsev, deputy head of the Presidential State Legal Directorate, announced after a conference on the project “Improving Access to Justice in the Russian Federation.”



He said that a draft law on free legal aid developed by the Ministry of Justice will be submitted to the President in the near future.



Most of the recommendations and suggestions on the improvement of the current legislation on free legal aid to the disadvantaged members of the public were developed by an expert group of the EU-funded project whose aim is to improve access to justice in the Russian Federation. The project was launched in December 2008.



Deputy head of the project Nikolai Shevchenko highlighted three key aspects. Firstly, the new law will expand the categories of people eligible for free legal aid funded by the state budget. Secondly, according to the law, free legal aid will be provided for an increased number of issues. Finally, the regional authorities will be able to decide independently whether it is necessary to further expand both the categories and the number of issues.



As the conference participants noted, the free legal aid legislation will be developed mostly at the regional levels.



Moreover, the constituent entities will have the right to decide who will be providing free legal aid on non-criminal cases, whether it will be only lawyers, state legal officers or both. The regional authorities will also be in charge of funding.

The new law implies that the federal budget will provide partial financial assistance although the amount of funding has not been determined yet. According to the conference participants, it will depend on the lawyers’ salaries.