The present article examines what has happened in Russia in the field of legal cooperation in criminal matters since 2004. The retrospective approach has been chosen in order to update the article published in this Review in 2004 which included several recommendations for Russia to improve its system for international cooperation. The current work subjects these recommendations and developments in the area to a critical review.
Since 2004, there have been no major innovations in Russian legislation regarding legal cooperation in criminal matters. Interestingly enough, Russia took a misstep, when it abolished the concept of confiscation in criminal law. The resolution of this experiment indicates that there has been some degree of improvement in the procedure concerning implementation of new treaties. As regards extradition cases, several difficulties were foreseen already in 2004 and, indeed, some of them have been realized—in particular, concerning those Russian requests for extradition that have political connotations. When it comes to institutional structures, the number of "Central Authorities" has not been reduced. The system is still highly centralized in Moscow. On the basis of the author's experience, the knowledge of international treaties and their application—to some extent—has increased among Russian practitioners.
The author suggests continuing cooperation with Russia in various international fora as well as on a daily basis in handling concrete cross-border cases. In her opinion, legal assistance in criminal matters is a fairly narrow field of expertise and, therefore, a challenging "form of art" for any person involved.
The two most important Council of Europe conventions in the penal field—the Convention on Extradition and the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters—entered into force with respect to the Russian Federation in March 2000. The present article examines whether these conventions are fully implemented in Russia. Four research problems are identifi ed: (1) What kind of obligations have the European Conventions established for the contracting parties? (2) How is the fulfi llment of these obligations monitored by the Council of Europe and the member states? (3) How are the criteria for adequate international legal cooperation fulfi lled by Russia? and 4) Is cooperation with Russia different from cooperation with other countries and how could this cooperation be improved? The present article includes an empirical part, which provides statistics on requests for judicial assistance. The method is comparative. Altogether forty-one criteria have been formulated in order to evaluate systems for judicial cooperation. These criteria are organized into three groups, dealing respectively with: (i) legislative; (ii) institutional; and (iii) human resources aspects. The article stresses the signifi cance of the Committee of Experts on the Operation of European Conventions in the Penal field (PC-OC) in ensuring unanimous interpretation of the conventions. For the first time, the new Russian Criminal Procedure Code (2001) includes provisions on international cooperation, which are therefore carefully analyzed. The writer concludes that most of the main provisions of the European conventions have been implemented in Russian legislation. There are, however, some legislative gaps, i.e., concerning provisions on the searching, freezing, and confi scation of proceeds derived from criminal activity on the basis of a foreign request. In addition, some problems remain in administrative structures, such as five central authorities instead of one. Finally, the information and training concerning conventions is not (yet) suffi cient thereby resulting in certain practical difficulties.