Recall last month the case of Oleg Shcherbinsky, who was jailed in Russia for allowing a speeding ministerial car to crash into him, which led to protests in several Russian cities against the system which allows ministers and government favourites to act with impunity at the expense of the general public.
The verdict against Mr Shcherbinsky has been overturned:
[T]he court found that Shcherbinsky had been following traffic rules while the governor’s driver had “grossly violated” them. “The panel of judges finds it necessary to overturn the verdict on Shcherbinsky and to abandon the criminal case, as there is no case to answer,” said one of the judges, announcing the decision in Barnaul. The crowd in the courtroom burst into applause.
This is hardly a victory for the rule of law, though. The reason the verdict was overturned, as the Washington Post story alludes to, was that Mr Shcherbinsky’s case had generated a lot of sympathy among ordinary Russians who felt vulnerable enough to petition for his release, fearing that they too could end up behind bars for doing nothing wrong. The Kremlin has come under some degree of public pressure recently, over this case and the bullying of recruits in the military, and in New Russia the leaders are unable to ignore public opinion completely.
This is a victory for ordinary Russians over the elite who believe they can secure courtroom verdicts in their favour regardless of the circumstances of the case. It is a shame that this had to come after a court had done just that, instead of the court having upheld the law in the first place. There is still a long way to go in Russia.
(Via Gene at Harry’s Place)