IRKUTSK, March 1 - RAPSI, Fyodor Shatsillo. The planned merger of the general and commercial court systems will weaken the influence of federal supreme courts on regional justice, Supreme Commercial Court Chairman Anton Ivanov said on Friday.

In the Russian judicial system, general jurisdiction courts consider civil lawsuits, crimes and cases involving administrative offenses. This branch of the system is headed by the Supreme Court. Commercial courts hear economic disputes between legal entities pertaining to civil, administrative and other relationships.

Lawmaker Yelena Mizulina reportedly said at a State Duma plenary meeting last month that a two-branch court system is negatively affecting the people.

"There is not a single country where an entire federal system would link to one court - not with such a large number of disputes and regions," Ivanov said.

He said it would be too difficult for a single court to operate in Russia, "and it will practically lose influence on the proceedings."

Commercial courts reporting directly to the Supreme Court would make things worse, as there are many lower general courts reporting to it already, he said. The European Court of Human Rights also recognizes Russian commercial courts as an effective legal protection tool.