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The honouring of obligations and commitments by the Russian Federation

Doc. 13018: collection of written amendments | Doc. 13018 | Final version

Caption: AdoptedRejectedWithdrawnNo electronic votes

ADraft Resolution

1The Russian Federation joined the Council of Europe on 28 February 1996. Upon accession, it committed itself to respect the obligations incumbent upon every member State under Article 3 of the Statute, with regard to pluralist democracy, the rule of law and human rights. It also undertook a number of specific commitments listed in Parliamentary Assembly Opinion 193 (1996) on the application by Russia for membership of the Council of Europe.
2In accordance with the monitoring procedure, as set out in Resolution 1115 (1997) and amended by Resolution 1431 (2005) and Resolution 1515 (2006), the Assembly has assessed the progress made by the Russian Federation in the fulfilment of its obligations and commitments in Resolutions 1277 (2002) and 1455 (2005).

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 2, insert the following paragraph:

"However, the Russian Federation has not fulfilled, to date, all obligations and commitments provided for by the Assembly's Opinion 193 (1996), especially those regarding the restitution of all property and goods claimed by Council of Europe member states, as well as the cultural and religious property mentioned in paragraphs 10., 10.xii, 10.xiii and xiv or the said Opinion."

Explanatory note

The amendment underlines that not all commitments provided for by Opinion 193 (1996) are implemented and some of them, because of their sensitivity, need a more careful consideration by the Assembly until their full implementation. In 1996 all these commitments were accepted by the Russian delegation.

3The Russian Federation has reached a unique moment in its short history of democratic development. The engagement and the mobilisation of more than 100 000 citizens following the December 2011 elections, the awakening of a very engaged civil society and the willingness of the authorities to hear the call for reforms could create a momentum for change.
4To realise this unique political potential, Russian society needs concrete reforms. A number of laws introduced since December 2011 – including amendments to the law on political parties, changes in the electoral law and the re-introduction of direct elections of governors – constitute very positive steps and illustrate a will to liberalise the system and make it more inclusive. That is why the Assembly welcomes the decrease of the electoral threshold from 7% to 5%, the liberalisation of the rules for registration of political parties and the reduction of the number of members needed, as well as the reduction of signatures needed for a presidential candidate from 2 million to 100 000 signatures and the abrogation of the obligation to collect signatures for all other elections.

01 October 2012

Tabled by Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Ms Ankie BROEKERS-KNOL, Mr Josep Anton BARDINA PAU, Mr Terry LEYDEN, Ms Doris FIALA, Ms Mailis REPS, Mr Jordi XUCLÀ

Votes: 130 in favor 52 against 8 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4, delete the word "very".

01 October 2012

Tabled by Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Ms Ankie BROEKERS-KNOL, Mr Josep Anton BARDINA PAU, Mr Terry LEYDEN, Ms Doris FIALA, Ms Mailis REPS, Mr Jordi XUCLÀ

Votes: 27 in favor 161 against 6 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 4, delete the following words: "and illustrate a will to liberalise the system and make it more inclusive".

5The 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 European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 114 and ETS No. 5) without delay.
6Other measures and decisions taken this year raise serious concerns. In particular, four laws adopted by the State Duma in June and July 2012, namely the laws on the criminalisation of defamation and on the Internet, and amendments to the law on assemblies (the so-called “protest law”) and on non-governmental organisations (NGOs) (the so-called “law on foreign agents”), are worrying; they illustrate how full of contradictions the political situation in the Russian Federation is and must call the authorities’ real intentions into question. The recently announced two-year prison sentence handed down to three members of the Pussy Riot group, widely perceived as patently disproportionate, has added to existing concerns and the Assembly calls for their immediate release.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 6, delete the words : "and the Assembly calls for their immediate release".

Explanatory note

Paragraph 23.28 is worded more correctly from the point of view of the rule of law.

7In Resolution 1455 (2005), the Assembly fully recognised the right of the Russian authorities to carry out reforms adapted to economic, political and administrative realities. It welcomed the progress made in the fulfilment of a number of commitments, for example the ratification of the (revised) European Social Charter (ETS No. 163), the establishment of a public media service, the review of the way the regional governors are elected and others.
8Referring to the concern expressed in its last report about the reforms introduced by President Putin to reinforce “the verticality of power”, as fundamentally undermining in many respects the system of checks and balances indispensable for the proper functioning of pluralistic democracy, the Assembly urges the newly elected President Putin to democratise the system instead of increasing its authoritarianism.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 8, delete the words : "instead of increasing its authoritarianism."

Explanatory note

Nothing is said in the explanatory memorandum about any manifestations of authoritarianism.

9Since the adoption of the previous resolution, two parliamentary elections, in 2007 and 2011, and two presidential elections, in 2008 and 2012, have taken place. All of them were marked by serious shortcomings and concerns relating to the whole electoral process, identified by both international and national observers, who nevertheless praised how many Russian citizens made use of their right to vote. Throughout the whole reporting period, the same political force, United Russia, has held the majority of seats in the Duma, and its candidates, Mr Medvedev and Mr Putin, have won consecutive presidential elections.
10Up until the parliamentary elections in December 2011, the reporting period was marked by a further strengthening of executive power and narrowing pluralism, despite a number of legislative initiatives undertaken by President Medvedev in 2009 and 2010 to liberalise the political system. Regrettably, the reforms aimed at increasing parliamentary control over the executive and enhancing party pluralism have had little impact and have not contributed in any significant way to the improvement of the democratic process.
11At the same time, deficiencies in and restrictive implementation of other laws, crucial for the functioning of democratic institutions and the political environment, in particular the laws on political parties and on freedom of assembly, have led to a deterioration of the conditions for genuine political pluralism. The delegalisation of the Republican Party in 2007, rebuked by the European Court of Human Rights (“the Court”), the refusal to register some political parties, such as Parnas, the systematic non-authorisation of peaceful demonstrations and the use of disproportionate force to disperse them, the creation of restrictive conditions for freedom of the media, and especially the big and influential ones, and harassment of the opposition, all had negative effects on the state of democracy in Russia until autumn 2011.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 11, delete the following words: "and the use of disproportionate force to disperse them".

Explanatory note

The police of the United Kingdom, Greece, Belgium, the USA and some other countries have recently used tougher methods to disperse peaceful demonstrations. The word "disproportionate" seems to be rhetorical rather than notional in this context.

12Furthermore, 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 Mikhail Khodorkovsky, in December 2010, to six more years of imprisonment and the conviction of the members of the Punk band Pussy Riot 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.
13Although just one murdered journalist is one too many in a democratic society, the Assembly takes note that the number of cases of violence against journalists decreased in the Russian Federation during the reporting period. But serious human rights violations, such as harassment, beatings and assassinations of engaged citizens, including, among others, the murders of Ms Anna Politkovskaya and Ms Natalia Estemirova, still remain unpunished.
14Torture and death in detention are unacceptable in a Council of Europe member State by any means. That is why the cases of Mr Sergei Magnitsky and Ms Vera Trifonova, and the continuous impunity of the perpetrators, have been of utmost concern to the Assembly’s during the reporting period. The people responsible for these deaths must be identified and punished and these cases have to remain issues of investigation and report during the next reporting period on the Russian Federation.
15The situation in the North Caucasus, and in particular in Ingushetia and Dagestan, with serious abuses by law enforcement agents, including killings, abductions and torture, and the prevailing impunity of the perpetrators in the region, confirmed by over 150 judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, remains extremely worrying and unacceptable. The Assembly urges the Russian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

01 October 2012

Tabled by Mr Ilyas UMAKHANOV, Mr Vyacheslav FETISOV, Mr Dmitry KRYVITSKY, Mr Samad SEYIDOV, Ms Sahiba GAFAROVA, Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV, Mr Mevlüt ÇAVUŞOĞLU

If adopted, amendments 4, 17 falls.

Votes: 50 in favor 139 against 5 abstentions

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 15 with the following paragraph:

"The Assembly is especially concerned about the situation in the North Caucasus. The end of military actions, as well as the measures undertaken by the federal authorities aimed at restoring and modernising the infrastructure and rebuilding the towns, have considerably improved the living conditions of the population. At the same time, the continuing terrorist acts, killings of military personnel, civilians and clergy, the continuing human rights violations and an atmosphere of impunity, lead to an increase of violence and to a volatile situation in the region. Expressing its condemnation of the terrorist acts and solidarity with their victims, the Assembly at the same time notes the excessive use of force and abuses by law enforcement agents."

01 October 2012

Tabled by Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Ms Ankie BROEKERS-KNOL, Mr Josep Anton BARDINA PAU, Mr Terry LEYDEN, Ms Doris FIALA, Ms Mailis REPS, Mr Jordi XUCLÀ

Falls if amendment 22 is adopted.

Votes: 29 in favor 162 against 7 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 15, replace the words "and in particular in Ingushetia and Dagestan" with the following words: "in particular in Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan".

In the draft resolution, paragraph 15, delete the last sentence.

16At the same time, the Assembly notes with satisfaction that a number of reforms in the field of the judiciary, such as the establishment of the Investigative Committee and its separation from the Prosecutor’s Office, the adoption of the Compensation Act, penitentiary reform and a considerable decrease in the number of detainees in pre-trial detention, address long-standing concerns expressed by the Assembly on many occasions.
17Terrorist attacks in the Russian Federation regrettably remain a major concern. Since the adoption of Resolution 1431 (2005), the country has been shaken by a considerable number of deadly attacks, notably in the Moscow Metro in March 2010 and in one of the big Moscow airports in January 2011.
18With 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.

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 18, add the following sentence: "The opening of polling stations in Abkhazia (Georgia), South Ossetia (Georgia) and Transdniestria (Republic of Moldova) without the explicit consent of the de jure authorities in Tbilisi and Chisinau, as well as the prior 'passportisation' of populations in these territories, violated the territorial integrity of these states, as recognised by the international community, including the Parliamentary Assembly."

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 18, insert the following paragraph:

"Continuing attacks on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons remain a serious concern, with the introduction of laws restricting freedom of expression and assembly in relation to homosexuality in nine constituent entities of the Russian Federation and a proposal for similar legislation in the Federal Duma, and with the widespread refusal to allow peaceful assemblies despite the European Court of Human Rights judgment in Alekseyev v. Russia."

19The developments following the last parliamentary elections in December 2011, initiated by mass protest demonstrations, and the subsequent declared readiness of the authorities to reform the system, have created a window of opportunity which is still open.
20Unfortunately, these positive developments have been recently overshadowed by the adoption by the State Duma of a number of restrictive federal laws, including amendments to the law on defamation, the law on information, the law on NGOs, and the law on assemblies. The Assembly considers these laws as potentially regressive in terms of democratic development and urges the authorities not to make use of them in this harmful way.
21The Assembly points to the recent opinions of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) on five federal laws, namely the electoral law, the law on assemblies, the law on extremism, the law on the federal security service (FSB) and the law on political parties, which identified a number of shortcomings, and calls on the Russian authorities to address the concerns expressed therein.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 21, after the words "a number of shortcomings" insert the following words : ", as well as to its forthcoming opinion on the amendments to the Law on the Freedom of Assembly adopted on 9 June 2012".

22The Assembly asks the Russian Federation to make full use of the legal expertise of the Venice Commission.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 22, insert the following paragraph:

"The Assembly is very concerned by the Duma's recent decision to deprive Mr Gennady Gudkov, member of the 'Just Russia' party, of his parliamentary mandate on the basis of Article 4, 1-B of the Law on the Status of the Deputies of the Duma, in conjunction with Article 6, paragraph 2-B, which prohibits a member of the Duma from engaging in any business activity. This decision, taken by a simple majority vote on the basis of the evidence provided by the General Prosecutor's Office and the Investigation Committee without any court proceedings, establishes a dangerous precedent which may undermine the very essence of representative democracy. The Assembly calls on the Duma to retract its decision and establish a proper procedure for the implementation of legal provisions regarding incompatibilities which would comply with democratic standards."

23The Assembly is convinced that the coming months will be crucial for the democratic future of Russia, and that the Russian authorities must confirm their commitment to the democratic progress of the country. Therefore, the Assembly calls on the Russian authorities to:
23.1reflect, in co-operation with the Venice Commission, on a unified electoral code, which would address all the concerns identified during the 2011 and 2012 elections, in particular relating to:
23.1.1modalities of the appointment procedure for the members of the Central Electoral Commission and electoral commissions of lower levels, in order to ensure their independence and impartiality;
23.1.2safeguards which would effectively prevent the convergence of the State and the ruling party;
23.1.3equal access to the media for all political parties during electoral campaigns;
23.1.4observation of elections by representatives of national NGOs and associations and ensuring their effective participation;
23.1.5an effective complaints and appeals procedure;
23.1.6rules on party financing during electoral campaigns and the introduction of public funding;

01 October 2012

Tabled by Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Ms Ankie BROEKERS-KNOL, Mr Josep Anton BARDINA PAU, Mr Terry LEYDEN, Ms Doris FIALA, Ms Mailis REPS, Mr Jordi XUCLÀ

Votes: 164 in favor 31 against 5 abstentions

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 23.1.6, insert the following paragraph:

"the possibility for different political parties to constitute electoral blocs."

23.2address the outstanding concerns raised by the Venice Commission in its opinion on the law on political parties, in particular relating to the level of bureaucratic control on the establishment and functioning of political parties;
23.3re-establish a meaningful political dialogue with the opposition not represented in the State Duma, as was the case between December 2011 and March 2012;

01 October 2012

Tabled by Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Ms Ankie BROEKERS-KNOL, Mr Josep Anton BARDINA PAU, Mr Terry LEYDEN, Ms Doris FIALA, Ms Mailis REPS, Mr Jordi XUCLÀ

Votes: 31 in favor 162 against 8 abstentions

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 23.3 with the following paragraph:

"establish a meaningful political dialogue with the opposition not represented in the State Duma;"

23.4improve the political environment so as to allow the opposition forces to be genuinely competitive;
23.5amend the newly adopted laws on defamation, information and assembly (the so called “protest law”), so that they cannot be misused in order to suppress public opinion, freedom of expression and civic involvement and mobilisation;
23.6refrain from undue control of social networking services and the Internet, online filtering and cyberattacks on opposition websites;
23.7refrain from attempts to discredit some of the most respected domestic and international NGOs by publicly accusing them, without foundation, of acting on foreign instructions and representing foreign interests;
23.8amend the new law on NGOs (the so-called “law on foreign agents”), so that it cannot be used as an instrument of repression and intimidation of NGOs and civil society;
23.9refrain from undue pressure and intimidation on the opposition and critical NGOs;
23.10review legislation on local and regional authorities, with a view to abolishing the rule allowing for dismissal of mayors;
23.11reconsider the legislation on the distribution of powers between the federal executive authorities, executive authorities of entities of the Russian Federation, and local authorities;
23.12review the legislative and administrative framework, with a view to ensuring a better protection of judges from undue influence by State or private interests, with particular focus on:
23.12.1procedures for appointment, promotion and dismissal of judges;
23.12.2tenure in office, notably in the case of justices of the peace;
23.12.3powers of presidents of courts;
23.13refrain from undue influence on judges;
23.14ensure proper implementation of the federal law on lawyers, in particular with regard to the responsibility of the bar associations for the appointment of legal representatives for indigent suspects;
23.15limit the supervisory powers of the Prosecutor’s Office (the Prokuratura) over the executive and legislative branches and bring the Office into line with relevant European standards;
23.16refrain from using the “supervisory review procedure” (nadzor) in civil cases, which will be abolished on 1 January 2013, thus eliminating violations of the principle of legal certainty by the quashing of final judicial decisions;
23.17pursue reforms in the field of the judiciary, in strict compliance with Council of Europe standards;
23.18continue efforts to improve conditions of detention on remand, in particular in pre-trial detention places;
23.19publish the most recent report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CPT), as well as previous CPT reports;
23.20consider measures to implement the recommendations of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and, in particular:
23.20.1revise the codes of administrative and criminal procedure, in order to firmly establish that cases of corruption are treated as criminal offences;
23.20.2adopt the necessary legal measures to establish the liability of legal persons for corruption offences;
23.20.3provide effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions in these cases, in compliance with the requirements of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS No. 173);
23.21enhance efforts to fully implement the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights;
23.22ratify, without further delay, Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human Rights;
23.23ensure effective investigation into cases of abuse against and harassment of human rights defenders and prosecute the perpetrators;
23.24implement Assembly Resolution 1738 (2010) on legal remedies for human rights violations in the North Caucasus region, and notably bring to justice those found responsible for human rights violations;
23.25investigate effectively all cases of alleged ill-treatment and torture by the police and by law enforcement agencies and bring the perpetrators to justice, and in particular elucidate all the circumstances of the deaths of Mr Magnitsky and Ms Trifonova, as well as of the case of Mr Vasily Alexanyan, who was imprisoned on pre-trial detention for over two years and denied adequate medical treatment, and who died about two years after the Russian authorities released him following the intervention of the European Court for Human Rights;
23.26refrain from using force against peaceful demonstrators;
23.27review the policies of authorising demonstrations and sanctioning the organisers, and refrain from restrictive or abusive application of the law on assemblies;
23.28review, in accordance with the procedures provided for by Russian legislation and in compliance with democratic standards, as set forth in the Convention and in the Court’s case law, the recent judgment against three members of the Pussy Riot group;
23.29ratify the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ETS No. 148) without further delay;
23.30review the law on alternative military service, so as to bring it into line with European practice;

In the draft resolution, delete paragraph 23.30.

Explanatory note

The explanatory memorandum does not give any grounds to claim that the law on alternative military service is not in line with European practice, which, in fact, does not exist.

23.31refrain from applying the law on extremist activities against religious communities such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses;

01 October 2012

Tabled by Ms Anne BRASSEUR, Ms Ankie BROEKERS-KNOL, Mr Josep Anton BARDINA PAU, Mr Terry LEYDEN, Ms Doris FIALA, Ms Mailis REPS, Mr Jordi XUCLÀ

Votes: 36 in favor 157 against 11 abstentions

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 23.31, add the following words: ", as well as against those involved in non-violent activities, including critical assessments of political, public or religious organisations".

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 23.31, insert the following paragraph:

"ensure that laws restricting freedom of expression and assembly in relation to homosexuality are repealed and that the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons to freedom of assembly is guaranteed;"

23.32implement Resolutions 1633 (2008), 1647 (2008) and 1683 (2009) on the consequences of the war between Georgia and Russia;

In the draft resolution, paragraph 23.32, replace the word "implement" with the following words: "consider the implementation, where possible, of".

23.33complete the withdrawal of the remaining Russian military forces and their equipment from the territory of the Republic of Moldova without further delay;

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 23.33, insert the following paragraph:

"denounce as wrong the concept of two different categories of foreign country, whereby some are treated as a zone of special influence called 'the near abroad' and refrain from promoting the geographical doctrine of zones of 'privileged interests';"

23.34continue efforts to settle outstanding issues on the return of cultural and other property by direct negotiation with the countries concerned.

In the draft resolution, replace paragraph 23.34 with the following paragraph:

"continue efforts to settle rapidly outstanding issues on the return of cultural and other property by direct negotiation with the countries concerned, in accordance with the commitments assumed by the Russian Federation through Opinion 193 (1996), paragraphs 10.xii, 10.xiii and 10.xiv."

Explanatory note

The progress made by Russia concerning the returning of cultural goods and other properties belonging to some member states is minimal. Solving all the requests in a reasonable time represents more than a moral duty that should be called to mind.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 23.34, insert the following paragraph:

"The restitution of the Treasure of Romania, temporarily evacuated to Moscow during World War I, based on bilateral agreements between the Romanian authorities and the Russian authorities, when the two countries were allied, whereby the Government of Russia guaranteed the safety of transport, the safety of deposit, and the safety of return to Romania of the said Treasure. The restitution could begin with the metallic gold stock of the National Bank of Romania, consisting of 93.4 tons in coins and bars, for which Romania has transmitted once again to the Russian Federation, in 2004, precise inventories and documentation."

Explanatory note

The bilateral negotiations on the Romanian Treasure, stored in Moscow, have been blocked by the Russian side for the last six years. Accordingly, we consider it necessary to make a special reference to this issue, which might help to unblock the dialogue and solve an issue which has been contentious for almost 100 years.

In the draft resolution, after paragraph 23.34, insert the following paragraph:

"to put a stop to the political and economic pressure exerted by the company Gazprom by means of the price charged for natural gas sold to the countries of central and eastern Europe."

Explanatory note

The Russian Federation uses its natural resources to blackmail the countries of central and eastern Europe, for example the Republic of Moldova, in an attempt to convince them to accede to the so-called Euro-Asian Union of which Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are members.

24The Assembly is encouraged by the renewed commitment of the Russian authorities to pursue the fulfilment of its commitments. However, declarations should be followed by acts. In this respect, the Assembly expects that they will pursue the path of democratisation and will refrain from taking any measures which may hinder democratic progress.

In the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 24, insert the following words: ", and will return as soon as possible all property and cultural goods claimed by other member states of the Council of Europe."

Explanatory note

This aims to insert into future priorities the issue of solving the claims of other states regarding the return of properties and cultural goods to their true owners, as the process is confronted with major difficulties.

25Against this background, the Assembly resolves to pursue its monitoring of the honouring of obligations and commitments by the Russian Federation until it receives evidence of substantial progress with regard to the issues raised in this and the above-mentioned resolutions.

01 October 2012

Tabled by Mr Viorel Riceard BADEA, Mr Cezar Florin PREDA, Mr Ferenc KALMÁR, Ms Stella KYRIAKIDES, Mr Egidijus VAREIKIS, Ms Liliana PALIHOVICI, Mr Valeriu GHILETCHI, Mr Tudor PANŢIRU, Ms Ana GUŢU

If adopted, amendment 7 falls.

Votes: 142 in favor 31 against 5 abstentions

In the draft resolution, paragraph 25, replace the words "substantial progress with regard to the issues raised in this and the above mentioned resolutions" with the following words: "their complete fulfilment, as provided by Opinion 193 (1996) of the Assembly and subsequent resolutions, recommendations and reports".

Explanatory note

This amendment underlines that all Russia's commitments, reflected in Opinion 193 (1996) of the Assembly and in its subsequent resolutions, have an equal status and should be monitored by the Assembly until their full implementation.

In the draft resolution, paragraph 25, replace the words "the issues raised in this and the above-mentioned resolutions" with the following words : "the terms of reference of the Assembly Committee of the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (the Monitoring Committee)".

Explanatory note

This falls within the scope of the monitoring mandate.