PACE has ratified the credentials of the Russian parliamentary delegation by a large majority after they were challenged on substantive grounds on the opening day of the session – but has deplored a number of “negative tendencies” in the country with regard to democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and called on Russia to fulfil all the recommendations made in a series of recent Assembly resolutions.
In a resolution based on a report by Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), the Assembly said it was committed to dialogue as a means of reaching lasting solutions and pointed out that it remained a platform where the Russian delegation could be “held accountable on the basis of the Council of Europe’s values and principles”.
However, it also listed its concerns, citing:
* a constitutional provision enabling Russia’s Constitutional Court to declare a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights as “non-executable”
* a new law which makes a solution to the Crimea issue, in line with international law, “virtually impossible” (the Assembly also made clear that ratification of the credentials “would in no way constitute recognition, even implicit, of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation”).
* the “crackdown on civil society, extra-parliamentary opposition and critical journalists, as well as restrictions imposed by the Russian authorities on basic freedoms”
* restrictive amendments to laws on the activities of NGOs and the media, the conduct of public events, and the protection of State security, as well as laws limiting the human rights of LGBTI persons
* the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, and the lack of any meaningful investigation by the Russian authorities, as well as his recent arrest and detention in Moscow, and arrests and the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators supporting him.
The Assembly called for Mr Navalny’s release, as well as that of peaceful demonstrators and supporters unduly detained, and urged Russia to review a number of laws to bring them into line with Council of Europe standards. It also called for the Council of Europe’s School of Political Studies to be removed from the list of “undesirable organisations”.
The Assembly said it “expects that its clear offer of a meaningful dialogue will be taken up so as to lead to tangible and concrete results”.