(tovarishcheskii sud), in the USSR, an elected public body charged with promoting the education of citizens to maintain the communist attitude toward labor and a respectful attitude toward socialist property, to observe the rules of socialist society (through a fostering of a collective consciousness and mutual assistance), and to respect the honor and dignity of the Soviet people. The work of the comrades’ courts consists mainly of preventing violations of law, preventing formation of an atmosphere of tolerance toward any antisocial actions, and educating citizens through the force of persuasion and social influence. The procedure for organizing comrades’ courts and the competence of such courts are determined by the statutes on comrades’ courts adopted by the presidiums of the supreme soviets of the Union republics. In the RSFSR the existing Statute on Comrades’ Courts was adopted by the Edict of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR dated Mar. 11,1977, with subsequent revisions and amendments.
Comrades’ courts may be established at enterprises, institutions, organizations, and educational institutions upon a decision of the general assembly of the collective of the working people or students. They may be established on kolkhozes, in apartment houses maintained by housing offices or apartment house administrations or united into street committees, and in rural population centers and settlements upon a decision of the general assembly of the kolkhoz members, residents of the apartment house, or inhabitants of the settlement and with the consent of the appropriate executive committees of the soviets of people’s deputies. Comrades’ courts are elected by open ballot for a two-year term; their size is determined by the general assembly.
Comrades’ courts hear various types of cases: violations of labor discipline, such as absenteeism, lateness, and premature departure from work; carelessness in work performance; minor offenses committed for the first time and not representing a grave social danger; petty hooliganism and petty profiteering; incidences of consumption of alcoholic beverages on the street or in yards, parks, or other public places; and property disputes between citizens involving sums up to 50 rubles, with the consent of the disputing parties.
The statutes on comrades’ courts contain a list of measures of social influence the courts are entitled to apply to offenders. These measures include obligating the offender to make a public apology; issuing a comrades’ warning, social censure, or social reprimand; and imposing a fine. In hearing cases against violators of labor discipline, a comrades’ court has the right to recommend to the administration of the enterprise that the violator be transferred to a position with lower wages.
If a comrades’ court finds that a violator should be brought to trial for criminal or administrative responsibility, it forwards the case materials to the appropriate bodies.