MOSCOW, October 2 (Itar-Tass) —— The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Tuesday adopted a critical resolution on the monitoring report on Russia’s honoring its PACE obligations and commitments in the past seven years (2005-2012).
The 70-page monitoring report was prepared by Andreas Gross of Switzerland and Gyorgy Frunda of Romania.
Despite its generally critical tone, the resolution has a number of positive assessments: the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe notes some positive steps taken by Russian leaders on the path of democratization, such as amendments to the law on political parties, changes in the electoral law and the re-introduction of direct elections of governors, which “constitute very positive steps and illustrate a will to liberalise the system and make it more inclusive.” Although, according to the head of the Russian delegation to PACE, Alexei Pushkov, the report further slides into “a considerable and very objective critical part.”
In its report, PACE expressed concern over some recent decision taken by the Russian authorities and the general situation with democracy in Russia. Thus, PACE said it was worried over “the law on the criminalisation of defamation, on the Internet, amendments to the law on assemblies (the so-called “protest law”) and on NGOs (the so-called “law on foreign agents”).”
Apart from that, the resolution has an entire section criticizing Russia’s judiciary system. “Legislative amendments to the laws on the constitutional court have been widely viewed as democratically regressive and indicative of the growing lack of judicial independence in Russia. For example, the conviction of Mr Khodorkovsky, in December 2010, to six more years of prison and the conviction of the Punk artists Pussy Riots in August 2012 were largely perceived as a sign that the judiciary in Russia remains subject to political pressure and the influence of the executive,” according to the resolution.
PACE drew attention to the fact that “the murders of Ms Anna Politkovskaya and Ms Natalia Estemirova, still remain unpunished.” Apart from that, “torture and death in detention are unacceptable in a Council of Europe member State by any means,” PACE stressed.
PACE called on Russia to fulfill its three resolutions on consequences of the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. “With regard to the consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia, the Assembly reiterates its Resolutions 1633 (2008), 1647 (2008) and 1683 (2009), and recalls the conclusions of the report of the International Independent Fact-Finding mission on the Conflict in Georgia, established by the European Union and led by Ambassador Tagliavini. The Assembly reaffirms the decision of the Monitoring Committee of January 2011 on the modalities of how to further proceed with this matter,” the document says.
Apart from that, the Assembly urged to “complete the withdrawal of the remaining Russian military forces and their equipment from the territory of Moldova without further delay.”
PACE also urged Russia to ban capital punishment de jure. “The Assembly also welcomes the decision of the Constitutional Court of 19 November 2009, to abolish de facto the death penalty. The Assembly firmly asks for the establishment also of the de jure abolition of the death penalty in Russia and urges the authorities to ratify Protocol No. 6 of the Convention of Human Rights without delay,” the resolution says.
The Russian delegation voted down this resolution. “Some of its provisions make this resolution a priori unacceptable for the Russian delegation, said Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the international committee of the Russian State Duma lower parliament house. “We respect the rapporteurs but it is quite obvious that not a single world nation reviews its law and court decisions, or refuses to recognize other states to a request from outside. It is an unacceptable subject. Russia is a sovereign state, and the Council of Europe seems to forget it. I don’t think we are going to find a common language on these subjects.”