Grani.ru reports (translation below, original carries 42 comments in Russian) on moves to sanction Russia in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. If that happens, the Russians are threatening to withdraw from it altogether.
This presents an interesting conundrum. On the one hand, the Russians deserve to be thrown out of most anything; one the other, some of these international gatherings are of some – usually pathetically little – use in reining in Russia’s worst abuses.
I am in two minds on the issue myself – should I be Trotskyite about this and want things to get worse in order for them to get better (if Russia is sanctioned ordinary Russians will lose one of their last remaining protections and their resort of last instance, leaving them to suffer under a government restrained in one less way – yet this may be the way to get to the straw that breaks the camel’s back); or should I want there to be some way the international community can hold back Russian neo-Naziism.
My conclusion is that one must stick to principles, as by definition these must come first. If the Council of Europe finds Russia to be in breach of its obligations, it must be sanctioned (preferably with extreme prejudice!).
Russia may be deprived of voting rights in PACE
June 26, 2009
Translated from the Russian by Dave Essel
Russia may be deprived of its right to vote in PACE, announced Head of the Duma Committee for International Affairs, Dmitri Kosachev. The newspaper Kommersant reports that this could happen as early as this autumn or winter. Moscow has on numerous occasions declared that it will leave the Council of Europe altogether is such a sanction is taken against it. If Russia actually does this, then Russian citizens will no longer be able to take claims against Russia’s courts and authorities to the European Court of Human Rights.
The Georgian delegation has been collecting signatures in support of depriving Russia of its right to vote. The grounds for this sanction are Moscow’s non-fulfilment of a series of demands contained in PACE resolutions. The Council of Europe has demanded that an independent investigation of the events of August 2008 be instituted, that international observers be allowed into the region, and that Russian troops be withdrawn. PACE has additionally suggested to Moscow that it rescind its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetian statehood.
The Russian delegation claims that these demands are provocations and impossible to comply with while at the same time recognising that this could lead to a review of the rights of Russia’s PACE representatives. “I’m afraid there are serious conflicts in the offing,” said Kosachev to Kommersant. “These discussions will have a very different tenor. We used to discuss whether Russia was right or not in certain matters but now we will be discussing whether or not we have complied with resolutions of the Assembly.”
The Georgian delegation needed 20 signatures in order for the matter of depriving Russia of its voting rights in PACE to be raised at the next session. According to PACE MP David Darchiashvili, it took less than a week to collect the requisite number.
Discussion of the Georgian war is by no means the only sore point for Russia which PACE is going to look into. It also plans in its autumn session to pass a resolution on politically motivated trials in Europe. This will devote particular attention to the Khodorkovsky trial. On top of this and following in President Medvedev’s footsteps, PACE has decided that it will look seriously into the problem of falsification of history – several reports on historical matters have been commissioned.
The Russian leadership has recently been asking itself ever more frequently why Russia even remains in the Council of Europe, where it is constantly subjected to criticism. Even Kosachev, while solidly defending the importance of Russia remaining in PACE, has in the last year allowed on several occasions that Russia might decide not to remain in Strasbourg if Moscow is deprived of its voting rights.
The consequences of such a departure could be weighty. Should Russia leave the Council of Europe, Russia’s citizens will no longer be able to go to the European Court of Human Rights. Last year 27000 Russians sought redress there.