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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe encroaches upon Russias power vertical


The Council of Europe produced a new list with demands on Russia that, according to the Assembly, will bring the country closer to European standards. The Russian delegates did not like the Europeans complaints and threatened to cut down membership dues to this organisation.

The resolution project of the Assembly was agreed on by the majority of the delegates Wednesday evening, notwithstanding the wild protests of the Russian delegation. 91 delegates were in favor of the resolution, 17 voted against it. The Assembly stresses that the Russian government should not only significantly speed up the fulfillment of the residuary duties, but also correct the direction of several political, legislative and administrative reforms that have been recently carried out, the resolution says.

The delegates demanded that Moscow finally abolishes the death penalty (in Russia there is a moratorium on the death penalty, but it is still kept in the criminal code as a possible measure), initiates legal action against people responsible for human rights violations in Chechnya and puts an end to financial support for Belarus, which has moved away from democratic standards.

Furthermore, Russia is supposed to withdraw its troops from Moldavia. The Council of Europe asks the Russian parliament to quickly ratify a whole series of documents. The matter concerns the protocol 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, the Social Charter and the European Convention on Extradition. At the same time the General Assembly asks for a quick regulation of all questions regarding the return of cultural artifacts about which member countries of the Council of Europe have made demands.

Separate issues are the state reform in Russia and the corrections in the electing system that were suggested by the Kremlin last year.

The reform package, aimed at the strengthening of the power vertical, can in many ways undermine the system of checks and balances which is necessary for the good functioning of any democracy, it is said in the resolution.

For an appropriate functioning of a democracy the state power should not only be consolidated vertically, but also horizontally, the members of the Assembly advise. Separately, the Council of Europe intends to carry out a detailed review of the major legislative projects that have been passed in Russia lately.

The resolution was based on reports by the delegates David Atkinson and Rudolf Binding, who have been studying the situation in Russia for a long time. Mr. Binding in particular has been to Chechnya several times as an observer for the Council of Europe and actively criticized the situation in the republic. As a sign of objectivity Mr. Binding said in his speech that Russia undeniably has made progress in establishing democracy, but at the same time complained that there is no independent television, that the judicial system strongly depends on executive power and that the representatives of the Baltic states are not getting any compensation, which, according to the speaker, they should get for their deportation by the Soviet authorities. About the last issue there was even made a separate amendment to the resolution.

The Russian delegates tried to cite any possible facts against this. Natalya Narochnickaya in particular reminded of the fact that the resolution was discussed on the day of the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, June 22.

It is ironic that today our country, which freed Europe of fascism and saved its people from becoming swine-herds and chambermaids for the Third Reich, is accused of occupation, she said.

The head of the Russian delegation Konstantin Kosachev stated that the assembly supports several amendments that are totally unacceptable for the Russian side. He thinks that the amendment that indirectly acknowledges the fact of the occupation of the Baltic States by the Soviet Union is strongly influenced by political reasons. This is obviously a mistake committed by todays assembly, Kosachev stressed. According to him, the amendment advising Russia to make a development of relations with Belarus conditional on its (Belarus) democratic reforms is also a mistake. Kosachev remarked that in the given case the matter consists of relations of a member country of the Council of Europe with a third country. This is obviously beyond the competencies of the Council of Europe and, of course, beyond the mandate of the monitoring report.

Then Kosachev unexpectedly added that Russia can cut down membership dues to the Council of Europe.

I think that the current rate of membership dues paid to the Council of Europe is excessive, he said. At the moment Russia is one of the five most important contributors to the General Assembly of the Council of Europe, transferring 23 million Euro to the organizations fund every year. The Council of Europes General Secretary answered that unemployment in the Assembly will result because staff numbers will need to be cut. But Davis is not about to put obstacles in anyones way. According to his words, if Russia wants to reduce membership dues, it is her right to do so.

[26.06.2005]

Source: gazeta.ru

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