Moscow galled by PACE criticism

The spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will not go down well in the history of Russia-PACE relations as it was less constructive than Russia would have liked it to be, Russia’s chief delegate said on Friday.

Konstantin Kosachyov was especially critical of the Georgia resolution, which he described as politically biased.

PACE voted on Wednesday for the further monitoring of Georgia over compliance with its commitments and obligations to PACE.

Russia particularly objected to the part of the PACE resolution condemning the continuing human rights violations as a result of the 2008 war, including the grave violations of freedom of movement and right to return internally displaced persons as a result of the “occupation of the two breakaway regions.”

Georgia attacked South Ossetia in August 2008 in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Russia recognized South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, as independent two weeks after the conflict.

Kosachyov mounted a personal attack on the report’s authors, Kastriot Islami and Michael Aastrup Jensen, as being “notorious for their radical views.”

In another slap to Russia, PACE co-rapporteurs on Wednesday submitted an information note on their recent fact-finding visit to Moscow and Kazan, providing a preliminary assessment of Russia’s progress in honoring its own obligations and commitments to PACE.

Gyorgy Frunda and Andreas Gross expressed concern about a number of laws recently adopted in Russia.

These include the Law on Defense relating to the sending abroad of Russian troops, which “raises questions concerning conformity with international law.”

The same applies to the extent to which the executive’s decision-making powers are consistent with the need for democratic control over the armed forces.

They criticized Russia, party to a number of Council of Europe conventions, for its failure to ratify them, in particular the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism.

The information note also points to the 2010 Law on Security Services, which, “according to the opposition, may be used as an instrument to threaten anyone who is in opposition or simply criticizes the authorities, as well as journalists investigating sensitive stories.”

Other problem areas include the Law on Police, which has been criticized for non-compliance with European standards; the Law on Fighting Extremist Activity; and the question of the electoral threshold, which, “in the view of PACE, should not be higher than 5 percent.”

The memo also avers that a large part of the Russian opposition is still unrepresented in parliament and is not participating in political dialogue which gives cause for concern.

STRASBOURG, April 15 (RIA Novosti)

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