Tuesday, May 01, 2007

2nd Judge Faces the Axe

Yushchenko acts to shore up his position and control over Ukraine's Constitutional Court

Viktor Yushchenko has dismissed a second judge in what is seen as a political purge in order for the president to shore-up his position of authority and limit judicial accountability.

The president's latest maneuver, on the eve of the Constitutional Court's ruling on the appeal against his decree,dismissing Ukraine's democratically elected parliament, seriously undermines the independence of the Court.

On April 2 the president issued his first decree dismissing the parliament which resulted in stand-off and struggle for power between the Office of the President and the elected Parliament.

The parliament, arguing that the President's decree was unconstitutional, lodged an appeal with the Constitutional Court. The court was due to hand down its ruling later this week. On April 26, soon after the Court moved into closed session, the President cancelled his first decree and issued a second decree with an additional citation alleging breaches under Article 90 of Ukraine's Constitution.

The dismissal of two Constitutional Court judges has exacerbated the political crisis facing Ukraine with the president standing accused of directly seeking to influence the outcome of the Constitutional Court's deliberations, prior to their verdict, by dismissing judges considered to be opposed to the president's decrees.

Related Story: Political Corruption in Ukraine's Highest Office Threatens Ukraine's Democracy