Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Daily News – March, 30

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Ponta rules out Senate vote repeat on Voicu arrest

Mircea Geoana says a vote annulment would be difficult to achieve while press reports make new revelations about his alleged involvement in Catalin Voicu’s corruption case. All parliamentary procedures in the case of Senator Catalin Voicu were respected and it is out of the question to hold a second Senate vote on prosecutors’ request to detain the lawmaker, Social Democrat Party leader Victor Ponta said in an interview to RFI yesterday. Voicu, probed for peddling influence and taking bribes, is accused of having intervened with magistrates and police in favour of several politicians, most of them from the PSD, in which he is a member. The lawmaker suspended party membership pending investigations and last week, Senate green lighted anticorruption prosecutors’ request to take Voicu in custody.

Ponta said in the RFI interview that the vote cannot be held again, as all parliamentary procedures were respected. “Things are settled from our point of view, as a party, and we made it clear that Mr. Voicu, like anybody else, must face judges,” Ponta said. He added that Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana, who is a leading PSD member, must act in this regard to protect Senate and the party “from any interference in the act of justice, regardless of the personal reasons he perhaps has in the case.” Ponta’s comments referred to media reports and allegations that Geoana, during his term as PSD leader, was close to Voicu and even tried to get him appointed interior minister, state secretary in the Interior Ministry or prefect. But Geoana repeatedly denied the accusations.

Magistrates slam ‘Voicu judges’ illegal promotion

About 300 magistrates raised their voice against what they dubbed ‘occult’ promotions made by the country’s leading magistracy body, charging that several judges received higher positions based on group interests, daily ‘Romania libera’ wrote yesterday. Protesting magistrates say promotion not based on competence brings about corruption as a form of payment for professional rise. They illustrate their allegations with a concrete example: that of High Court judge Cristian Jipa, one of the magistrates probed in Senator Catalin Voicu’s influence peddling and bribe taking case. Jipa was promoted to the High Court in September 2009 although during his interview with Superior Council of Magistracy members, he failed to answer questions correctly, magistrates say. His name appeared in Voicu’s file only a few days after being named High Court judge. Moreover, the magistrates voice outrage that both Jipa and High Court penal section president Florin Costiniu, also probed in the Voicu case, are allowed to go on judging, given they no longer have the necessary ‘moral authority.’ The protesters also said that CSM’s ‘occult promotion practices’ began several years ago and that although they brought the matter to the public’s attention, their efforts went by unnoticed.

BNR interest rate at lowest level in history – 6.5 pc

The Administration Board of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) has decided yesterday to cut the monetary policy interest rate by 0.5 percentage points to 6.5 per cent, the lowest level in history, and to maintain rates of the minimum reserves requirement for RON-denominated liabilities at 15 per cent and for foreign currency-denominated liabilities at 25 per cent. The decision to cut the monetary policy interest rate to 6.5 per cent comes into force today. The Central Bank has reiterated that it seeks the proper management of liquidity in the banking system.

Although reporting obvious drops, the average interest rates for new deposits and credits remain relatively high compared to the monetary policy rate’s level, despite the significant improvement of liquidity in the banking system,’ BNR writes in a press release.

At the same time, BNR pointed out that it will continue to keep a close eye on the internal and global economic developments so as to ensure the attainment of its price stability and financial stability goals by adapting its instruments against the backdrop of fulfilling the commitments taken in the agreements signed with the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and other international financial institutions. The BNR decision was anticipated by most economic analysts that had foreseen that the Central Bank will lower the monetary policy interest rate by 0.5 percentage points in order to back the economic recovery and crediting but also in order to ease the appreciation pressures exerted on the RON. The analysts consider that the reduction of the monetary policy interest rate will represent a strong stimulus for the faster reduction of interest rates for credits and will ease the appreciation pressures exerted on the RON.

Hillary Clinton: China on board with Iran sanctions

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday that China agrees Iran must not become a nuclear weapons power and that the fellow Security Council member will play a role in forging sanctions against the Islamic republic at the United Nations. In the Canadian capital for a meeting of top diplomats from the Group of Eight leading industrialized democracies, Clinton said that despite China’s general opposition to international sanctions, it will contribute to the process at the UN.  The US is leading the charge to penalize Iran for refusing to prove that its nuclear ambitions are peaceful. China is a permanent member of the Security Council and can block new sanctions with a veto, so its support for sanctions will be crucial.

Iran will be a major topic at Clinton’s meetings in Canada with her counterparts from the other G-8 nations. The alliance groups the US with Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Russia. Russia, which like China is typically opposed to sanctions, has said it is willing to consider new penalties and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will see Clinton in Ottawa to consider the issue further.

Source: Associated Press

Moscow Attack a Test for Putin and His Record Against Terror

The brazen suicide bombings in the center of Moscow have confronted Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin with a grave challenge to his record of curbing terrorism, and raised the possibility that he would respond as he has in the past, by significantly tightening control over the government. The attacks during the morning rush hour seemed all but designed to taunt the security services, which have been championed by Mr. Putin in the decade since he took power in Russia. The first one occurred at the Lubyanka subway station, next to the headquarters of the Federal Security Service, also known as the F.S.B., the successor agency to the Soviet-era K.G.B. that was led by Mr. Putin in the late 1990s.

Mr. Putin, the former president and current prime minister, has built his reputation in part on his success in bottling up the Muslim insurgency in southern Russia and preventing major terrorist attacks in the country’s population centers in recent years. If the bombings on Monday herald a renewed campaign by insurgents in major cities, then that legacy may be tarnished.

The attacks could also throw into doubt the policies of Mr. Putin’s protégé, President Dmitri A. Medvedev, who has spoken in favor of liberalizing the government, increasing political pluralism and dealing with terrorism by addressing the root causes of the insurgency.

Mr. Putin on Monday limited his comments largely to vows to destroy the terrorists who organized the attacks, who have not been identified, but who the Russian authorities said they suspect came from Chechnya or neighboring regions in the Caucasus Mountains. But when he last faced a spate of such violence, in 2004, he reacted with a sweeping reorganization of the government that he said would unite the country against terrorism, but also concentrated power in the Kremlin.

He pushed through laws that eliminated the direct election of regional governors, turning them into presidential appointees, and made it all but impossible for political independents to be elected to the federal Parliament. He also increased the strength of the security services.

Source: NYT

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Written by Theophyle

March 30, 2010 at 9:35 am

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