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Former judge slams Medvedev's plans to appoint Constitutional Court head

Moscow, 8 May: Presidential amendments to legislation concerning the procedure of appointing the Constitutional Court chairmen and their deputies have put an end to one of the most democratic procedures, the election of the Constitutional Court chairman, retired judge of the Constitutional Court Tamara Morshchakova has said.

"It is completely obvious that when the procedure of electing a chairman will be scrapped, the court will turn into a place attended by obedient appointees. This is even more so because the chairman could now have his hands free to do what he wants, since along with the election procedure, the possibility for judges to dismiss the chairman in case he does not observe the law will obviously be scrapped as well," Morshchakova told Interfax on Friday (8 May).

"All this comes on the (first) anniversary of the presidential inauguration speech which contained such good words about the judicial reform and the independence of courts," she stressed.

The judge said that the present procedure of electing a chairman was unique in its democratic nature and "was highly valued in the world".

Moreover Morshchakova noted that the adoption of the presidential amendments would destroy the idea which is currently being discussed by experts to elect chairmen of all courts by judges of these courts in accordance with the procedure used in the Constitutional Court.

"This will result in the final suppression of any independence of the court," she said.

Morshchakova also added that she did not doubt that "the State Duma would obediently pass the amendments submitted to it". (Passage omitted: previously reported information on the amendments)

(In a later report at 1349 gmt, Interfax news agency quoted the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State-Building, Vladimir Pligin, as saying that Medvedev's amendments aimed to improve the Russian judicial system.)