Clearing Constitutional Court of Too Independent Judges
“Vertical of power” is hardening its grip over the Constitutional Court. Kommersant reports today that two members of the Court were punished by their fellow judges for public criticism of the Russian judiciary system and the lack of democracy in general.
Vladimir Yaroslavtsev had to resign yesterday from the Council of Judges of the Russian Federation and its praesidium, a self-regulatory body of the Russian judiciary. The reason for that was his August interview with El Pais, in which he harshly criticised the political system built by Vladimir Putin. “The judiciary power in Russia during Vladimir Putin’s and Dmitry Medvedev’s presidencial terms has become a tool used by the executive power,” he claimed. “I feel like I’m standing at the ruins of justice,” the judge concluded.
Another member of the Constitutional Court, Anatoly Kononov, even has to resign from the court because of his public critical position. For a long time, he was opposing many undemocratic decisions of the court by declaring his individual opinion (the right a Constitutional Court judge legally has). He has also criticised these decisions (including the Court’s refusal to examine the cases of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Natalia Morari) in the press. He also tried to defend judge Yaroslavtsev and to oppose the new order of selecting the Chairman of the Constitutional Court (he is now appointed by the President and the Senate instead of being elected by the judges themselves, as it used to be). As a result, he was forced by his colleagues to resign from his post for “undermining the authority of the judiciary system.”