Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, April 06, 2009

Basic disagreements

International cooperation is based on some degree of basic agreement on political issues. Cultural, political, and nationalistic disagreements are not always worked out ahead of treaties. And things change.

European Court Seems to Rankle Kremlin

"Fed up with the brazen string-pulling and favor-trading in the corrupt Moscow courts, a judge named Olga B. Kudeshkina went public, criticizing the system in numerous interviews as little more than a legal bazaar — 'an instrument,' as she put it, 'for settling political, commercial or simply personal scores.'

"When Ms. Kudeshkina was then dismissed, she joined a stampede of Russians in appealing their cases to the European Court of Human Rights [headquarters at left], which ruled last month that she had been improperly disciplined.

"But now, it seems, that path is becoming more difficult, as the Kremlin is blocking an overhaul of the European court that is intended to reduce a multiyear backlog of cases — many of them from Russia.

"The dispute with the court has underscored the Kremlin’s growing antipathy to international organizations and thrown into question the commitment of Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, to confronting corruption and what he has described as Russia’s 'legal nihilism.'...

"The rulings of the court, which was established under the auspices of the Council of Europe, are binding on all its member countries...

"The court appears to have increasingly rankled the Kremlin by issuing rulings that highlight corruption, torture and other official misconduct in Russia, including the pervasive practice of what is known here as 'telephone justice' — a politician calling and instructing a judge how to rule.

"Russia began taking part in the court in the late 1990s. In 2000, the court received 1,987 appeals against Russia, or 8 percent of the total, court officials said.

"At the end of 2008, the number of cases filed against Russia had risen to 27,250, or 28 percent of the total, far more than any other country, and out of proportion to its population...

"Genri M. Reznik, a lawyer who is a member of a Kremlin advisory body called the Public Chamber, said senior officials needed to acknowledge that the Russian legal system was deeply troubled.

"'We should not blame the mirror of the Strasbourg court if we are shown to have an ugly face,' he said."

See also:

What You Need to Know -- a study guide for AP Comparative Government and Politics

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