MOSCOW, February 6 (RAPSI) - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday has signed a law merging the Supreme Court with the Supreme Commercial Court, the Kremlin press service reports. The law will take effect in 180 days.

There will be 170 judges overall. New judicial branches will be established in the Supreme Court: one for dealing with economic disputes, as well as one for military personnel.

St. Petersburg will serve as the official residence of the Supreme Court, while it will have an office based in Moscow. The court in St. Petersburg will begin its work on a date chosen by the Russian President in consultation with the Supreme Court, and until that time, the court’s base of operations will remain in Moscow.

In addition, the amendments regulate the creation of a qualifying board for the selection of judges as well as the creation of an examination committee. Initial members of the Supreme Court will be chosen from among the candidates that pass the qualifying examination. The amendments also stipulate grounds for excluding judicial candidates from the examination.

The current Russian judicial structure has two branches. 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, headed by the Supreme Commercial Court, hear economic disputes between legal entities pertaining to civil, administrative and other relationships.