Switch Hitting on the ECHR and Foreign Policy

medved071708.jpgKommersant and the Moscow Times report that for the second time during a month, the RF Justice Ministry has replaced the country’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. Georgy Matyushkin, ex-deputy presidential envoy to Privolgie Federal District, will go to Strasbourg instead of St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly lawmaker Viktor Evtukhov. According to lawyer Vadim Prokhorov, the most probable reason of this movement of bureaucrats is that, on the threshold of a number of comprehensive trials in Strasbourg, the cases of Yukos, Nord-Ost, Beslan, suits of SPS and other parties related to election violations, the Kremlin has reasoned that it would be better to have not just “a good man” but “a working professional” in Strasbourg. The Moscow Times reports that President Dmitry Medvedev has unveiled a new foreign policy strategy that grants unprecedented rights to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and shows that the Kremlin will maintain the tough course set during Putin’s presidency. The foreign policy strategy, was signed to coincide with a keynote speech to ambassadors, says the prime minister will be allowed for the first time to implement foreign policy measures, a right previously assumed to be monopolized by the president. Amid speculation that presidential powers would be weakened after Putin left the Kremlin, Medvedev said immediately after his election in March that he would retain the presidential right to control foreign policy. Dmitry Trenin, political analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said: “The vague and somewhat incomprehensible expectations that there might be some kind of liberalization in foreign policy” under Medvedev have proven unfounded.