Russia Set to Hold OSCE PA Responsible for False Info

Russia will seek to hold the Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Europe Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) responsible for providing false information, the Izvestia daily said on Monday.


A group of lawmakers in the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, is preparing amendments to the Assembly’s rules of procedure, to hold parliamentarians and guests responsible for providing deliberately misleading information in debates and resolutions.


“The State Duma will hold the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly responsible for its words. I’m sure parliamentarians have no intention of misleading anyone, but when those amendments are introduced, they will be more accurate in their statements,” the paper quoted United Russia lawmaker Igor Kostunov as saying.


“The type of responsibility… may vary from censuring and expressing non-confidence with the source of information in the future to criminal responsibility under national legislation,” he said.


The information was made public a week after the Assembly, comprising 320 parliamentarians from 55 countries from Europe, Central Asia and North America, voted to call on parliaments to ban visas and freeze assets of officials allegedly connected to the death of a 37-year-old Russian anti-corruption lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.


In his interview with Izvestia, Kostunov said he was “strongly surprised” by the Assembly’s bias in the Magnitsky case and its reluctance to listen to the Russian side, comparing the debates to the “censure of [Soviet dissident Alexander] Solzhenitsyn’s works.”


He said the Russian delegation was surprised by the fact that William Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital for whom Magnitsky worked until his death in 2009, was invited to speak at the debates, but refused to testify to representatives of Russia’s Investigative Committee.


“We know that William Browder could influence the parliamentarians’ opinion at a reception he organized for European parliamentarians,” Kostunov was quoted as saying.


“When I was asked about responsibility for a person who misinforms OSCE parliamentarians, I was told that no responsibility is envisaged and this is not the first time that such a situation has emerged. People somehow connected to OSCE PA organizers can freely disseminate any information… with impunity,” the lawmaker said.


Russia’s amendments are to be drafted by fall 2012.


Under the organization’s rules of procedure, they are to be introduced by at least 11 parliamentarians from three states. Amendments are then submitted to a subcommittee established for the purpose. The final decision on whether the amendments should be approved or rejected is made by a permanent committee on the basis of the subcommittee’s recommendations.


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