Russia's upper house of Parliament, the Federation Council, has approved a bill that would allow President Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin virtually full power to appoint the judicial branch of the Russian government. The bill has yet to be approved by the lower house, the State Duma, but is expected to pass by a wide margin.
One part of the bill would cut the membership of the Supreme Qualification Council, the body which appoints judges to the Russian federal courts, from 29 members to 21; the judges sitting on the Council would be appointed by the Kremlin. The bill is the latest in a series of measures taken by Putin to limit the democratic process in Russia, following his recent move to abolish elections for regional governors. From Russia, the Moscow Times has more.