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Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga

Hungary's Justice Minister has called European Union authorities “arrogant” after its executive arm asked the EU's top court to impose financial penalties on Poland in a long-running dispute over judicial reforms that has helped strain relations between the bloc and Warsaw over the rule of law.

The Hungarian government condemned the “malicious attacks by Brussels," Justice Minister Judit Varga said on her Facebook page late on September 8, two days after the European Commission, which acts as the guardian of the bloc's treaties, asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to impose financial penalties on Poland over a controversial judges’ chamber.

The EU’s executive arm said on September 7 it made the request because Poland had not taken “the necessary measures to comply fully” with an earlier ECJ judgment concerning the chamber, which is devoted to disciplining judges.

The Polish government said three weeks ago it would dismantle the chamber, even though it meant backing off of one of its judiciary reforms that had helped create a major riff with the EU.

Established in 2018, the chamber is able to dismiss any judge or prosecutor. In July, the ECJ ruled that the controversial chamber may be used “to exert political control over judicial decisions or to exert pressure on judges.”

The European Commission argued it was forced to take action now as there were signs the ECJ's concerns were already proving to be true.

In her Facebook post, Varga charged that ignoring the Polish government’s promise was a "scandalous and arrogant" step by the commission, which she accused of "meddling in the judiciary and law-making process of a sovereign member state in an unprecedented manner."

Both Hungary and Poland are locked in a series of conflicts with Brussels over issues such as the rule of law, press freedoms, and LGBT rights.

Nurzhan Altaev (with bullhorn) and members of the El Tiregi party rally in Nur-Sultan on September 7.

NUR-SULTAN -- The leader of Kazakhstan's unregistered El Tiregi (People's Pillar) party has been charged with violating the law on public gatherings following a protest rally in the capital, Nur-Sultan.

Party activists told RFE/RL that Nurzhan Altaev was briefly detained by police at the September 7 event and charged the next day.

They said at least six El Tiregi members were sentenced to jail terms of between seven and 15 days after being detained in a group of around 25 people when police dispersed the rally.

The demonstrators were demanding the government's resignation, protesting against forced COVID-19 vaccination, and demanding the government abandon plans to build a new nuclear plant.

Two leading members of the party, Union of the Soviet-Afghan War Veterans in Kazakhstan Chairman Murat Mukhametzhanov and lawyer Nursultan Ermakhanov, were detained the day before the rally and jailed for 10 and 15 days, respectively.

Altaev quit the ruling Nur-Otan party and announced the creation of El Tiregi in late November 2020, saying no genuine opposition political forces were represented in the current parliament.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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