|Tuesday, 21 May 2013|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 81, 01-04-26
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 81, 26 April 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS RUSSIA THE GUARANTOR OF ARMENIA'S SECURITYIn an interview published in "Ayots Ashkhar" on 25 April, Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisyan said that Russia is the chief guarantor of Armenia's national security, the Snark news agency reported. In other comments, he said that he does not believe that Azerbaijan will shift its current course and seek to impose a military solution to the Karabakh dispute. In any case, he said, if Baku should try to do so, Armenian defense forces are capable of repulsing any such effort. PG
 ARMENIANS ANGRY AT U.S. PRESIDENT BUSH'S STATEMENTArmenian politicians and public figures on 25 April deplored a statement by U.S. President George W. Bush on the 86th anniversary of the 1915 mass murder of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Bush stopped short of labelling those event a genocide in contrast to what he had promised to do while running for office. Tigran Torosian, the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, said that "the United States is not the only country where, as we have just seen, pre- election promises and real life turn out to be different things." PG
 ARMENIA RAISES GENOCIDE ISSUE AT COUNCIL OF EUROPE SESSIONThe Armenian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on 24 April called on that body to denounce the events of 1915 as a genocide, Armenian television reported the same day. The delegation said that it had collected the signatures of 60 other representatives, although delegation leaders noted that members of the Georgian delegation were among those who had refused to sign. PG
 AZERBAIJAN TELLS COUNCIL ABOUT TERRORISM, DRUGS IN KARABAKHIlham Aliev, the head of Azerbaijan's delegation to PACE, told that body on 24 April that Nagorno-Karabakh is now a source of terrorism and of drug trafficking, Baku's ANS television reported the same day. Aliev pointed out that Armenia has occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territory and forced one million Azerbaijanis to become refugees. PG
 EXXONMOBIL SUBSIDIARY BEGINS DRILLING IN CASPIANThe Oguz Operating Company, a subsidiary of the ExxonMobil Corporation, on 24 April announced that it has begun drilling an exploratory well 60 kilometers east of Baku in the Caspian Sea, "Bilik Dunyasi" reported the same day. PG
 DESTRUCTION OF BAKU MOSQUE SPARKS PROTESTResidents of a Baku region on 24 April staged a protest about the destruction of the Mirtagi Aga mosque on the orders of Baku Mayor Gadzhibaly Abutalybov, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. The paper noted that the destruction of this mosque had introduced complications in Baku's relationship with Turkey, but prior to his departure for the Turkic summit there, President Heidar Aliev expressed his full confidence in the mayor, Turan reported on 25 April. PG
 SHEVARDNADZE SAYS TRANSITION TO CABINET GOVERNMENT WILL BE SMOOTHPresident Eduard Shevardnadze told a government session on 25 April that "the introduction of a cabinet of ministers [in Georgia] will not cause a revolution," Caucasus Press reported. He said that polls showed that 70 percent of Georgians favor the establishment of such political arrangements. PG
 'TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY' MOVEMENT ESTABLISHEDA movement for the territorial integrity of Georgia was set up in Tbilisis on 25 April, Caucasus Press reproted. One of its founders, Sukhum Mayor Gia Chikovani, said that "we will do our utmost for the most rapid restoration of the territorial integrity" of the country. PG
 GEORGIANS TOP LIST OF FOREIGNERS SEEKING PERMANENT STATUS IN MOSCOWGeorgians lead all other national groups in seeking to obtain permanent resident status in the Russian capital, Caucasus Press reported on 25 April. But the news agency reported that the Russian embassy in Tbilisi now requests that Georgians applying for a visia provide a certificate attesting that they do not carry the HIV virus. PG
 TBILISI WANTS BAN ON METAL EXPORTS TO STOP POWER LINE THEFTSThe Georgian Fuel and Energy Ministry on 25 April called on the parliament to ban the export of non-ferrous metals in order to stem the wholesale theft of power lines, Prime-News reported. Since 1998, thieves have stripped 1,887 kilometers of high-voltage power lines and sold the metal to foreigners for profit, the agency said. PG
 UN SECURITY COUNCIL CRITICIZES LACK OF PROGRESS IN GEORGIA-ABKHAZIA TALKSThe UN Security Council issued a statement on 24 April describing the lack of progress toward a political settlement between Georgia and Abkhazia as "unacceptable," AP reported the next day. Dieter Boden, the representative of the UN secretary general, said that "with the support of the security council that I definitely got today, we may be able to speed up the process." PG
 TURKIC SUMMIT ATTRACTS ALL POST-SOVIET TURKIC PRESIDENTS EXCEPT UZBEKISTAN'SThe presidents of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan will attend the Turkic States summit in Turkey on 26-27 April, though Uzbekistan will be represented by its parliamentary speaker, Erkim Khalilov, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 April. PG
 KAZAKHSTAN TO SET UP DEVELOPMENT BANKPresident Nursultan Nazarbaev on 25 April signed a law creating a State Development Bank, Interfax-Central Asia reported. Seventy-five percent of the shares of the new bank will be owned by the government, with the remainder divided among the local organs of state power. PG
 MORE THAN 2,000 RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES REGISTERED IN KAZAKHSTANAccording to "Nezavisimaya gazeta-Religii," No. 8, 2,299 religious communities are registered in Kazakhstan. Of these, 1,150 are Muslim and 220 are Russian Orthodox. PG
 KYRGYZSTAN WILL TALK WITH TALIBANForeign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev said on 25 April that Bishkek is prepared for talks with the Taliban authorities in Afghanistan, Interfax- Kazakhstan reported. The chief goal of such talks, Imanaliev said, would be to secure Taliban agreement to non-interference in the internal affairs of other Central Asian countries. PG
 TAJIKISTAN ISLAMISTS SUPPORT COMMUNISTSAccording to "Vechernyi Dushanbe" on 16 and 20 April, Islamists in Tajikistan often back communists and work together with them. PG
 TURKMENISTAN FACING SEVERE WATER SHORTAGEAllmyrat Ataev, a specialist in water issues, said on Turkmen television on 24 April that Turkmenistan is rapidly approaching the point where the demand for water will be greater than the supply. Because of this danger, Ataev said, he supports a proposal by President Saparmurat Niyazov to create a giant artificial lake in the center of the country. PG
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 DJUKANOVIC PLEDGES INDEPENDENCE IN 'PRUDENT' WAYMontenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told a press conference in Podgorica on 25 April that the recent parliamentary election "demonstrated that Montenegro has a [growing] front of those forces that advocate restoration of Montenegrin statehood and a redefinition of our relationship with Serbia, " the "Financial Times" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," "End Note," 23 April 2001). He told visiting British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook that "there can be no hesitation in the basic national strategic road for Montenegro," which leads to independence via a referendum. Djukanovic made it clear, however, that he is prepared to negotiate with Serbia and not to rush matters. "What lies ahead of us are weeks and months of initiatives. Of course I recognize it is of strategic importance that we seek common ground with Serbia." He also noted that "the election demonstrated that Montenegrin society remains politically divided, which imposes a particular obligation on the government to continue pursuing a cautious and prudent policy." PM
 ...THROUGH TALKS WITH SERBIA'S DJINDJICDjukanovic said in Podgorica on 25 April that he will negotiate with Serbian Premier Zoran Djindjic, whom he called "the man who really represents the future of Serbia," "Vesti" reported. Djukanovic added that Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica is a "man of the past" and not an acceptable negotiating partner. For his part, Djindjic told RFE/RL's South Slavic Service that he is sure that he and Djukanovic "can find the necessary formulas" to define a new relationship between the two republics. Djindjic added that he expects to meet with the Montenegrin leader "soon." Djindjic took shelter from the Milosevic regime's police in Montenegro in 1999 and is well acquainted with political conditions there. PM
 COOK CONFIDENT THAT MONTENEGRO WILL TAKE 'EUROPEAN ROUTE'Cook said in Podgorica on 25 April: "I leave confident that the approach to constitutional change will follow the European route of dialogue to reach agreement and support through democratic consent," Reuters reported. An unnamed "British official" told reporters that the Montenegrins have backed away from their plans to hold a referendum in July. The official added that he hopes that the referendum will not take place until after serious negotiations with Serbia. PM
 COUNCIL OF EUROPE TO PRESSURE KOSOVA INTO NEW YUGOSLAVIA?Yugoslav parliament speaker Dragoljub Micunovic told "Danas" of 26 April that his recent visit to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg has convinced him that Europe now has a positive image of Yugoslavia and an increasingly negative one of the Kosova Albanians. Micunovic added that politicians in Strasbourg do not have a clear idea of what they want the region's political shape to be. He said, however, that thinking seems to be in support of a weak Yugoslav federation that will include Kosova as a third republic. Observers note that Kosova's ethnic Albanian majority has made it clear that it wants independence and nothing more to do with Belgrade. PM
 WIFE OF SERBIAN EX-PRESIDENT BLAMES MILOSEVIC FOR HIS DEATHKatarina Stambolic, who is the wife of former Serbian President Ivan Stambolic, said that she has given up hope that he is still alive, Reuters reported from Belgrade on 26 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 April 2001 and http://www.gdejestambolic.org). She added that she believes that Milosevic and his wife Mira Markovic had her husband killed: "They feared him because he knew too much about them. Their disturbed mental structure, the true image of which surfaced on the night of Milosevic's arrest, prompted them to get rid of my husband as someone too dangerous for them." Stambolic was the former mentor of Milosevic. Stambolic has been missing for more than eight months. PM
 NATO: NO CONSENSUS ON LETTING SERBIAN TROOPS INTO KEY BORDER ZONENATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson and the EU's Javier Solana told Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic and Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic in Brussels on 25 April that there is no consensus in the Atlantic alliance over allowing Serbian forces to enter "Zone B" of the demilitarized area in Serbia along the border with Kosova. Covic told Reuters that he is "not dissatisfied" with his talks in Brussels and confident that Serbian forces will eventually be allowed back into Zone B. Kostunica is seeking to restore Kosova to Serbian control through cooperation with the international community. PM
 MACEDONIAN CENSUS POSTPONEDThe Macedonian government decided on 24 April to postpone the population census, the Skopje daily "Utrinski vesnik" reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 20 April 2001). Originally scheduled for the second half of May, the population count will be held from 1-15 October instead. Now it is up to the parliament to pass an amended law on the population census. The government also formed a commission that will help displaced persons to return to their homes. UB
 MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT EXPECTS BROAD COALITION SOONAfter a meeting with the leaders of the main political parties and Western diplomats, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski said on 25 April that he expects that an agreement on forming a broad coalition will be reached by the end of this week, MIA reported on 26 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 2001). Trajkovski denied rumors that the representatives of the EU, OSCE, and the U.S. pressed for the inclusion of the main opposition parties into the government. The formation of a new government "depends on the ongoing negotiations between [Prime Minister Ljubco] Georgievski and [the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Branko] Crvenkovski," Trajkovski said. UB
 CROATIAN PRIME MINISTER TO INVESTIGATE HERZEGOVINIAN PAYMENTSIvica Racan said in Zagreb on 25 April that the government will determine what happened to the huge sums that its predecessors under the late President Franjo Tudjman gave to the Herzegovinian Croatian authorities. He said that there is ample evidence that the money was misused, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 HERZEGOVINIANS SEEK ASSURANCESMartin Raguz, who heads the coordinating council of the breakaway, hard- line Croatian "self-administration," said in Mostar on 25 April that the "self-administration" will dissolve itself if the international community gives it clear guarantees that there will be a "just solution of the Croatian national question" in Bosnia-Herzegovina (see "RFE/RL South Slavic Report," 26 April 2001). PM
 CROATIAN MASS GRAVE EXHUMATION YIELDS SURPRISEForensics experts from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal found an unspecified number of bodies of Italian World War II soldiers while investigating a mass grave of Serbs believed killed during and after the 1995 Croatian offensive in the Knin area, dpa reported. It is not clear who the Italians were or how they came to be killed and buried there. PM
 VERHEUGEN ADDRESSES ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTAddressing the parliament on 26 April, EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen said the EU "is not expecting from Romania miracles from one day to the next," but "wants to see clear-cut, unequivocal proof" that "substantial reforms" will be implemented "in the short term," Mediafax reported. He said efforts must be made to change the situation of children in orphanages, and that the Romany problem calls for "an adequate strategy" (on 25 April the government approved a plan for the integration of Roma). Verheugen also said it is "highly important" to safeguard the independence of the judiciary. He said the EU wants to see in place measures for economic structural reforms, and in particular the privatization of state- owned, loss-making enterprises and banks. MS
 EU FORECASTS FOR ROMANIA NOT ROSYThe economic forecast released by the European Commission on candidate countries foresees positive economic growth for Romania in 2001-2201 but says this will not be reflected in an improvement in living standards because of the absence of structural reforms, Romanian Radio reported. The commission predicts that inflation in 2001 will continue to be high (36 percent) and that it will drop only in 2002 (23 percent). In turn, a report published on the same day, the international Standard & Poor's rating agency says Romania continues to have "a fragile economy," burdened by loss- making, state-owned enterprises and a "vulnerable banking sector," Mediafax reported. MS
 EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT IN ROMANIAVisiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his Romanian counterpart Ion Iliescu on 25 April discussed in Bucharest bilateral relations and the conflict in the Middle East, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Mubarak said after the talks that "Romania can play an important role in relaunching the Israeli-Palestinian peace process because of its strong ties with all the countries in the region." Iliescu said Romania was "ready to do everything it can, alongside President Mubarak, to convince the sides that the time is ripe for returning to the negotiating table." Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana and his Egyptian counterpart Amr Moussa also held talks in Bucharest. MS
 ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS ANTI-BUDGET APPEALThe Constitutional Court on 25 April ruled that the 2001 budget has been passed in line with provisions of the basic law. The court thus rejected the appeal against the law launched by 53 deputies representing the National Liberal Party and the Democratic Party, as well as the appeal against it launched by the judges sitting on the Supreme Court of Justice, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PROMULGATES PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION LAWPresident Iliescu on 26 April signed into law the recently-passed Law on Local Public Administration, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor promptly reacted by announcing his formations will start gathering signatures backing Iliescu's impeachment. In line with constitutional provisions, the impeachment procedure can be launched by at least one-third of the total number of deputies and senators. The procedure must be approved by the Constitutional Court. If the court does so, and if the parliament approves the impeachment by a majority vote, a referendum must be organized within 30 days after the approval. MS
 ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE DIRECTOR GETS FURTHER BACKINGGheorghe Onisor, chairman of the National Commission for the Study of the Securitate Archives, on 25 April told the parliamentary commission probing into Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) Director Radu Timofte's alleged past links with the KGB that Timofte "has been a victim of the Securitate, not one of its collaborators." Onisor said Timofte was placed under shadowing by the secret police in 1986-1987, after his sister left Romania illegally and settled in the West. Former SRI chief Virgil Magureanu told the commission that Timofte had never served the KGB and has never been suspected of so doing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 25 April 2001). MS
 RARE UNANIMITY IN MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTAll three leaders of the parliamentary groups represented in the Moldovan parliament on 25 April told a visiting OSCE delegation that they rule out a confederation with the breakaway Transdniester region as a means to solve the conflict with the separatists, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The delegation is headed by the Portuguese ambassador to the OSCE, Joao de Lima Pimentel, and will also visit Tiraspol. Differences, however, were also blatant, as Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) parliamentary group leader Victor Stepaniuk said that the policy of "Romanianization" had generated the conflict while Popular Party Christian Democratic leader Iurie Rosca said Stepaniuk's statement is an attempt to justify the PCM's intentions "to bring about Moldova's Russification." Parliamentary Deputy Speaker Vadim Mishin told the guests that in addition to the Russian forces, the OSCE must also send peacekeepers to the "security zone" that divides the sides on the left bank of the Dniester River. MS
 BULGARIAN PREMIER CONFERS WITH POWELLPrime Minister Ivan Kostov met on 25 April with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Washington, an RFE/RL correspondent in the U.S. captial reported. Powell told journalists after the meeting that the discussion had included the situation in Macedonia. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker added that other topics discussed were Bulgaria's progress towards meeting requirements to gain membership to NATO and its role in the Partnership for Peace program, as well as the country's contribution to promoting regional Balkan stability. MS
[C] END NOTE
 RUSSIA'S JUDICIARY: REFORM AND ITS RESISTORS (PART I)By Sophie Lambroschini
The failings and alleged widespread corruption of the Russian court system are such that they've become material for everyday jokes. Here's one of the latest, inspired by warring NTV network shareholders Vladimir Gusinsky and Alfred Kokh, who have instituted numerous court proceedings against one another.
Gusinsky and Kokh went to court, the joke goes. The first gave the judge a million dollars, the second gave $1.5 million. The judge said, "let's be impartial and fair," and returned $500,000 to Kokh.
But Russia's judiciary system is no joke. A thorough reform of the country's courts was a key promise in President Vladimir Putin's electoral campaign last year. On his electoral website, Putin said prosecutors should stop "privatizing their powers" -- a hint at rampant corruption -- and end the use of law-enforcement forces to serve political or business needs.
Raids by prosecutors' personnel or by other armed and masked men using a prosecutor's warrant have become a common method of intimidation when taking over a company in Russia. Courts are suspected of being used to legalize such takeovers.
A first stab at judicial reform was drafted in 1991 by a group of liberal independent experts and its principles were adopted soon after by the Supreme Soviet. That reform was backed not only by human rights organizations, but also by politicians, judges, and businessmen. They all recognized the need for an overhaul of a system largely inherited from the Soviet Union and overrun by corruption. However, the reform was never actually implemented.
In his address to parliament on 3 April, Putin compared the court system to Russia's shadow economy. He said that Russia's "shadow justice" could compromise both business confidence and the state's reputation. "A key question for the authorities is the trust of its citizens in them," Putin said, noting that the degree of this trust is directly determined by how well the state protects its citizens from what he described as "arbitrariness, racketeers, bandits, and bribe-takers."
Putin called Russia's judiciary a "political problem" because, he said, it violates "the rights and interests of our citizens." Reform, he added, is "badly needed... The country's judicial system is lagging behind real life and is not very helpful in carrying out economic transformations. Not only for entrepreneurs, but also for many people who are seeking to restore their rights in law, the courts have not been quick, fair and impartial."
Earlier this year, a special commission headed by deputy head of the presidential administration Dmitrii Kozak was put in charge of drafting a reform of the courts. The commission is expected to present the brunt of its work to the State Duma by the beginning of May.
On the website strana.ru, which generally supports the Kremlin, Kozak was recently quoted as telling judges at a special meeting held last week near Moscow that part of the planned reform concerns them directly. Aimed at fighting corruption and overwork, the reform would raise judges' salaries and increase their numbers. From an equivalent of about $200 a month today, judges' salaries would reach $1,000 in 2006, the programmed end of the reform.
In addition, Kozak said, measures would be taken to lessen the grip of local authorities over judges -- and thereby their ability to pressure the court to favor one or another party. Under the draft reform, judges will be appointed without the approval of regional parliaments and will not receive their apartments from local authorities.
The projected judicial reform will also seek to rein in the present freewheeling status of judges. It would introduce an age limit for judges and widen the existing special judges' council deciding on appointments and suspensions to include legal experts who are not part of the judicial system. The hope is to increase judges accountability while weakening their overall influence.
In addition to the planned major judicial reform, several other projected bills or drafts that have already presented to the Duma are expected to correct what are seen as remnants of the repressive Soviet system.
Several laws are expected to overhaul and, in effect, replace a criminal procedural code adopted in the 1960s.
A bill setting a 12-month limit for detentions during pre-trial investigations was adopted by the Duma several months ago, but was rejected by the Federal Council earlier this year.
Another bill, which conforms to Russia's 1993 Constitution, would introduce court sanctions for detentions of more than 48 hours as well as for unauthorized searches. According to the existing criminal code, the Prosecutor-General's Office can order such detentions and searches, which can be challenged in court only afterward.
The government also proposes to generalize trials by jury, which now are only used in a handful of Russia's 89 regions. In most cases today, a panel of one judge and two assistant judges decides on alleged criminal acts.
Using such procedures, more than 92 percent of those accused are found guilty, and the courts have been criticized for clinging to the Soviet-era logic that the state is never wrong. Human rights experts, judges, and lawyers have proposed jury trials as an antidote to the high conviction rates. According to Moscow Judge Sergei Pashin, jury trials acquit 20 percent of those accused.
However, the first overtures at judicial reform have already backfired, reflecting deeply ingrained resistance to some of the proposed changes.
Two projected bills intended to reduce the powers of the Prosecutor- General's Office have failed to be adopted, allegedly because of pressure from law-enforcement organs.
In January, the Duma passed a bill that stripped prosecutors of the right to deliver detention orders, harmonizing legislation with the constitution, which clearly states a person can be jailed only by court order. But just days after the bill was adopted, Putin withdrew it -- with the official reason given that it was too expensive to implement.
According to liberal deputies who had pushed for the reform, high law- enforcement officials such as Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov and Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev pressured the Kremlin to withdraw the bill.
The Federation Council rejected another bill limiting pre-trial detention to a year instead of 18 months after an official protest by the Prosecutor- General's Office.
Law-enforcement organs, especially the Prosecutor-General's Office, warn that such a reform would let hundreds of criminals out on the streets and make it more difficult to catch terrorists.
At a news conference on 20 April, Deputy Prosecutor-General Badir Kekhlerov urged that prosecutors' rights be left untouched: "When the courts take up the defense of citizens, then of course the Prosecutor- General's Office will give up some of its powers. But I would like to say that when we speak about obeying some kind of standards, obeying the norms set by the constitution -- [when we] refer to the West, we constantly forget that our people don't get paid in time, that our people's mentality is different, that our perception of justice is different, that the respect of the law is not the same Why shouldn't we demand that these standards should first be attained and only then introduce the rest [that is, the judicial reform]?"
Kekhlerov, who is a member of the presidential reform commission, suggested that the Prosecutor-General's Office should wait until Russia improves its living standards and grows more respectful of the law before it renounces some of its many powers. He also said that the Prosecutor's Office is society's last resort of protection against corrupt judges.
Another obstacle to extensive judicial reform is purely financial. Simply raising salaries a bit and giving old courtrooms a new coat of paint will cost well over $300 million. But that sum does not cover the cost of training more specialized judges and other needed changes. Overall, the judicial reform is expected to cost about 42 billion rubles ($1.5 billion).
Russian lawyer Larissa Move told RFE/RL that she has a hard time believing in the upcoming judicial reform because it so blatantly contrasts with existing law-enforcement practices.
"I have the feeling that all that is happening now is very reminiscent of Soviet-style justice -- and I mean far from its better sides. At least, that's how it works in practice, that's what we are confronted with every day."
Some judges have also complained about the reforms. At a meeting last week, judges attacked the authors of the draft reform, accusing them of trying to dilute judicial independence by widening the existing college of judges responsible for appointing and, especially, for suspending judges.
If reform commission head Kozak has his way, the colleges hearing charges against sitting judges would be reduced to just three judges -- but expanded to include legal experts recruited outside the court system.
Reformists argue that this measure would reduce the protection of incompetent or corrupt judges. But critics reply that judges' independence would be called into question by more outside pressure put on judges who already feel enough political heat.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty