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With the executive and legislative branches of government firmly in his grasp, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is now moving loyalists to key leadership positions in the nation’s notoriously corrupt judicial system.

The administration’s consolidation of power edged yet another step closer to completion on March 22 when a Yanukovych ally got elected as head of the High Council of Justice. The influential 20-member council decides who gets to be a judge in the nation. Moreover, the president’s allies also have top posts at the nation’s top prosecutorial and police agencies.

Yanukovych’s oligarch-backed camp, in power since Feb. 25, now has unchecked powers that are unrivaled since the authoritarian decade of ex-President Leonid Kuchma.

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