Russian Officials Act As Dictator’s Advocates 18:16, 29/05/2006
In Moscow a visiting session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has opened. It is timed to coincide with Russia’s current presidency of the Committee of Ministers. Participants of the mini-summit of the PACE were addressed by the chairman of the State Duma Boris Gryzlov, the head of Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov and Rene van der Linden, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
It is rather unexpected that the Russian party, which has been previously talking about its disinclination to “make revolutions in Europe”, voiced criticism of Europe’s policy. In particular, Moscow raised a question of “double standards” in Europe. Boris Gryzlov, who opened the session, in the name of Russian law-makers called upon the PACE representatives “to agree on making a list of common standards of elections process”. In this respect Gryzlov paid special attention to the relations of Europe and Belarus.
As for charges relating to aiding and abetting Lukashenka’s tyrannical regime, Gryzlov stated that “Russia does not shut its eyes to the difficulties faced by the Belarusian civil society and the state in their development. However, we categorically deny allegations that “Belarus presents a threat to stability and security in the region”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov referred to the topic of Belarus as well. He reminded to the audience that isolation of Belarus is unacceptable, and criticized the EU decision to blacklist Belarusian politicians.
The EU criticism has not been limited to that. As is turned out, Russian politicians are displeased with an intense political nature of Strasbourg court. Boris Gryzlov called upon the European court to exercise exceptionally legal functions and not be engaged in politics.
Rene van der Linden, Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, have not taken notice of the claims of the Russian side. In his speech he simply stated that he is pleased with the verdict of a Russian court in the case of Beslan terrorist Nurpasha Kulaev, to whom the death penalty was commuted to imprisonment for life. The PACE Chairman expressed hope that Russia would abolish death penalty de jure. Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Russia does not renounce its commitments to the Council of Europe relating death penalty abolition.
It is expected that the agenda of the PACE summit in Moscow will be entirely dedicated to the most topical issues of foreign policy, including situation in Ukraine, results of the referendum in Montenegro, Iranian nuclear dossier and situation in Northern Caucasus.