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Russia judges resign after criticizing lack of judicial independence

[JURIST] Two justices on Russia's Constitutional Court [official website, in Russian] renounced their positions Wednesday, on the recommendations of their fellow justices, after publicly criticizing the nation's lack of judicial independence. Senior justice Anatoly Kononov, whose term of office was to expire in 2017, will resign [Moscow Times report] from the Constitutional Court at the end of this month. Justice Vladimir Yaroslavtsev will remain on the court, but has stepped down from his position on the country’s Council of Judges. In August, Yaroslavtsev gave an interview [text, in Spanish] to Spanish newspaper El Pais, in which he criticized Russia's judicial system, citing its lack of independence and corruption. Yaroslavtsev claimed the legislative branch is "paralyzed" and called the government "authoritarian." Kononov, who has spoken-out about judiciary problems in the past, publicly defended Yaroslavtsev's comments. In October, both justices were accused of undermining judicial authority by breaching the Judges' Ethics Code and the Law on the Status of Judges.

Russia has long been plagued by criticism over a lack of judicial independence. In June, the Council of Europe (COE) [official website] urged substantial reforms to correct systemic problems [JURIST report] in the Russian legal system, including the lack of judicial independence. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile] acknowledged the need for judicial reform [JURIST report] last December, saying that transparent courts would restore faith in the justice system and prevent people from seeking redress in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website].

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