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mercredi 26 janvier 2022 après-midi

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Ouverture de la séance n° 6

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

15:38:22

The next item of business this morning is the debate on the report on the challenge on substantive grounds (Rule 8) of the still unratified credentials of the Parliamentary Delegation of the Russian Federation, presented by Mr Piero FASSINO on behalf of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), and the opinion presented by Ms Maria JUFEREVA-SKURATOVSKI on behalf of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs.

As you know, the challenge of the still-unratified credentials of the Parliamentary Delegation of the Russian Federation, as I told you this morning, is no longer on the agenda for formal reasons.

I remind you that, in accordance with Rule 10.3 of our Rules of Procedure, the members of the Delegation of the Russian Federation whose credentials are challenged shall be seated provisionally with the same rights as other members of the Assembly until such time as the Assembly or the Standing Committee acting on behalf of the Assembly has taken a decision. However, these members shall not participate in any vote related to the challenge or reconsideration of the credentials that concern them.

As we are due to finish our consideration of this text, including the vote, at about 5:40 p.m., we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 4:40 p.m. in order to allow time for the Committee's reply and the necessary votes.

You have 7 minutes to present your report and 3 minutes to reply to the speakers at the end of the general debate.

Mister Piero FASSINO, you have the floor.

Débat : Contestation, pour des raisons substantielles, des pouvoirs non encore ratifiés de la délégation parlementaire de la Fédération de Russie

M. John HOWELL

Royaume-Uni, CE/AD

15:40:53

I refer you to the Venice commission Opinion 955/2019 that asked that other options should be given to this assembly so that we did not just have the option of denying credentials.

Since nothing has happened to that, can I ask you to ask the Bureau to ask the Rules Commission to properly investigate and address this anomaly as soon as possible?

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

15:41:21

Thank you.

Thank you very much Mr John HOWELL.

As I informed the Assembly this morning, the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs has taken its decision and I have informed the Assembly. Of course, at the end of the week the Bureau, as always, will look back to the week and then decide how to continue with a follow-up.

Then we resume our debate.

Now Mr Piero FASSINO.

You have the floor.

Mr Piero FASSINO, please ask for the floor.

Once again.

Please ask for the floor.

Mr Piero FASSINO, the floor is yours.

M. Piero FASSINO

Italie, SOC, Rapporteur

15:42:53

Thank you, Mr President.

First of all, I would like to congratulate you: I am really happy about your election and I am convinced that we have a president who can manage our work well.

Regarding the issue on the agenda, as you know, this year, as in previous years, there was a request to discuss the Russian credentials because some members of our Assembly consider that the credentials of the Russian Federation should not be accepted.

Therefore, the item was put on the agenda and discussed in the Monitoring Committee, where files were signed. The Monitoring Committee has finished its work a few minutes ago, with a report and a resolution that will propose to ratify the credentials of the Russian delegation.

Obviously, no one is hiding the many problems that exist with Russia and its authorities.

In my report, I have indicated several critical issues that concern us and I have not hidden our concern about several critical aspects of the attitude of the Russian authorities. In particular, I would like to highlight the issue of the parliamentary elections. These elections, in which a mission from our Assembly participated for the first time, revealed many problems of transparency and regularity. There are problems of compliance with the democratic standards that are used in all democratic countries; in Russia, they do not always seem to be respected.

Another question is that of Mr NAVALNY, which we will discuss right after our discussion. It is a question that has caused a lot of concern in public opinion and in our parliaments.

There is also the decision of the Russian authorities and the Russian Parliament to approve restrictive laws on foreigners, on undesirable organizations, and, in fact, these are laws that have reduced the possibility of the activity of non-governmental organizations, civil society associations and opposition parties.

Finally, there is the issue of Ukraine. This is a very delicate issue, which is now a high priority on the international agenda. It underlines the very serious problem that exists today between Russia and the international community, and especially the European Union and the United States.

And, finally, there are the solutions of the Memorial, this very important association which was founded by Mr SAKHAROV and which is a constant point of testimony of society to defend the rule of law, the human, civil and political rights. All these critical reasons are well known.

In any case, we believe that not to ratify the credentials of the Russian delegation would be a mistake, for several reasons that I will mention very quickly.

First, if we want to have a dialogue – even a critical one – with Russia, having the Russian delegation in our Assembly is a good thing. If the Russian delegation is not accepted and leaves our Assembly, we have no possibility to discuss, to talk, to have a dialogue – even a critical, even a very sincere one – with them. That was the first reason. I want to emphasize that in this period, in which relations with Russia are very complicated, NATO, the United States, the OSCE and several European states continue to have relations with Russia; they do not hide their critical attitudes but they continue to discuss. So if we have the plan to interrupt the project with Russia, we will be the first Assembly that will de facto expel Russia. I think this is a mistake.

The second thing is that if we look at the activity of the last two years, we can see that the Russian delegation has tried to participate, several times, in the activity of our Commission, of our Assembly, even with different opinions and views on the topics that have been discussed. In fact, the Russian delegation has been present and active. It is in the interest of our Assembly to continue having the Russian delegation as a full partner.

Moreover, the presence of the Russian delegation in the Council of Europe guarantees Russian citizens access to the Court of Justice; this is very important because there are critical situations in Russia with regard to the respect of human rights, civil rights and human rights. The possibility for Russian citizens to have access to the Court is very important and this is obviously linked to the presence of Russia in our Assembly.

I would like to add that the Council of Europe is the only pan-European Parliamentary Assembly in which Russia is present today, which is not in the European Union or in other places. So our Assembly has a very important role as a point of contact, of dialogue, of relationship with Russia, and I think this is another argument for keeping Russia inside our Assembly.

Of course, this is our position in favor of legislation. It doesn't hide a lot of the problems and concerns that we have. That is why we accompany the proposal to ratify the credentials of the Russian delegation with recommendations and we call on the Russian authorities to implement these recommendations, including the implementation of the already approved recommendations of the Council of Europe which have not been implemented by Russia so far.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that Russia participates in the activity of the Committee of Ministers at the governmental level. Russia has the same status at the governmental, intergovernmental and parliamentary levels.

For all these reasons, my proposal is to ratify the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation.

Thank you, Mr President.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

15:51:16

Thank you very much, Mister Rapporteur.

I now give the floor to Ms Maria JUFEREVA-SKURATOVSKI.

You have 3 minutes to present the opinion of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs.

 

Mme Maria JUFEREVA-SKURATOVSKI

Estonie, ADLE, Rapporteure pour avis

15:51:50

Honoured President, Dear Colleagues,

At the opening of the Assembly's part-session on 24 January 2020, to Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS supported – by the required number of members of the Assembly – challenged the still unratified credentials of the Parliamentary delegation of the Russian Federation on substantive grounds pursuant to Rule 8 of the Rules of Procedure.

The Parliamentary Assembly decided to refer the challenge to the Monitoring Committee for report and in keeping with Rule 8.3 of the Rules of Procedure to the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs for an opinion.

On 25 January 2020, the Monitoring Committee adopted a report and draft resolution. The draft resolution proposes, "resolves to ratify the credentials of the members of the Russian delegation" and "calls on the Russian authorities to fulfil the recommendations included in numbers of Assembly resolutions.

You can see all details in Paragraph 5 of the opinion.

The Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs was asked, therefore, to consider the compatibility of the proposed decision with the Rules of Procedure, in particular Rule 8, as well as the Statute of the Council of Europe.

The Committee points out that the motion to challenge the credentials of delegations must comply with certain formal conditions in order to be admissible. No irregularities were observed. It could therefore be concluded that the request had gathered the support of members as required by the Rules. I can note that the Monitoring Committee's report includes detailed descriptions or facts leading the rapporteur and the Monitoring Committee to propose ratification of the Russian delegation credentials.

However, it is not the role of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs to enter into the substantive considerations, the analysis of the substantial grounds being under the scrutiny of the Monitoring Committee according to its terms of reference.

You will see in my opinion that I have noted the Venus Commission's opinion which stated that "Parliamentary Assembly, as an organ of the Council of Europe, and is therefore bound not to recognise implicitly an annexation. The discharge of this obligation may include inter alia, the verification of the credentials of the delegation of the annexing state. When verifying the credentials of MPs who have been elected in the elections in a nationwide constituency, which covers a territory that may not be recognised as forming part of the organising State, the impact of the inclusion of the next territory on the final results of the election should be examined." This issue has already been raised several times in the Assembly. The rapporteur proposes to discuss the possibility of developing within the Rules of Procedure an appropriate way to address such situations.

In the sitting in the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs on 25 January, it was concluded that the proposal contained in there what of the Monitoring Committee to ratify the credentials of the Russian parliamentary delegation is in accordance with the Assembly's Rules of Procedure and Statute of the Council of Europe.

Thank you for your attention. 

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

15:55:08

Thank you, Ms Maria JUFEREVA-SKURATOVSKI.

Thank you, Madam Rapporteur.

We are now going to start with the debate.

First in the debate I call Mr John HOWELL from the United Kingdom, who speaks on behalf of the European Conservatives Group and Democratic Alliance.

M. John HOWELL

Royaume-Uni, CE/AD, Porte-parole du groupe

15:55:30

Thank you Mister President.

I disagree with the opinions that have been put forward in the past two presentations.

I want to quickly explain why.

In 2019, my group was strongly opposed to the unconditional, and I stress that, to the unconditional return of the Russian Federation. The reason why, was nothing had been done about the previous resolutions of the Council and the respect that should be shown to this Assembly.

We objected, too, to the demands that have been put forward by the Russian Federation to allow their return. The Assembly, however, decided to give in to the Russian Federation. I think as part of that there was the issue of trying to secure funds that had to be recognised as one of the issues that was brought up.

We were, to a certain extent, reassured that the new joint procedure between PACE, the Secretary General, and the Committee of Ministers, would replace what were PACE's inadequate procedures and for those that we wanted to punish for having violated the values of this organisation.

We were reassured by the Russian Federation that we should accept the Russian Federation was going to make a fresh start, and that it would abide fully by our rules.

Two and a half years later, I told you so. We as a group told you so. Nothing has changed. The Russian Federation has not done anything that respects our core values. There has been little Improvement to any of the resolutions that we put forward. Let me explain some of those areas where it has not respected our core values.

Firstly, the freedom of assembly in Russia has been curtailed, and it's been curtailed seriously.

Secondly, we've seen the foreign agents law used to wind down and to abolish Memorial, which has already been mentioned here and is a controversial decision.

We have seen Navalny, which we are going to go on to speak about, and we've seen opposition curtailed.

No one wants a war, even a war of words, with Russia. We look for better co‑operation with Russia, but it takes two to tango, and we need to see real improvement in that.

If Russia is not willing to play by these rules, it should then not be treated as if it were somebody who is going to play by those rules.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

15:58:38

Thank you, Mister HOWELL.

Our next speaker is Mr Jacques MAIRE, from France, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

M. Jacques MAIRE

France, ADLE, Porte-parole du groupe

15:58:52

Thank you, Dear President.

There is now a tradition in this Assembly that every time we renew our delegations, we are systematically confronted with a challenge to the credentials of the Russian delegation.

It is a sad and regrettable tradition, but I do not condemn it, because those who bear responsibility for this challenge are not our colleagues who propose it: it is the Russian authorities themselves. The commitments made in 2019 - as was said just now - by Russia on the occasion of the return to our Assembly have, unfortunately, not been followed by the facts.

I am not saying that Russia has not made any commitments or does not have any commitments in the Council of Europe. I am not saying that the Russian delegation is absent from our work, but the reports by our colleagues Mr Piero FASSINO and Ms Maria JUFEREVA-SKURATOVSKI, whom I congratulate, clearly show that, on the essential subjects of the rule of law and democracy, Russia is moving backwards a little more each day.

This is the case, in particular, with the new Russian Constitution, which gives precedence to domestic law over international law. It is also the case with the very partial application by Russia of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. It is also the case with electoral law, with the prohibition of opponents from running for office because they are qualified as "foreign agents" as soon as they are a little critical - and there are several of us here to testify to that. It is also the case of the work of all the rapporteurs who cannot go to Russia or who are forbidden to stay there, except for a few. It is finally the case of the treatment of political prisoners, and we will have the demonstration of this in a few minutes during our debate on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. It is, to conclude, probably the most dramatic today, the case when Russia, which does not respect the territorial integrity of its neighbors, invades countries such as Ukraine or Georgia

For all that, we will vote for the credentials of the Russian delegation because the Assembly took a decision two years ago to work again to bring about change in Russia through a demanding dialogue and by exercising all the powers at our disposa. This is no surprise as a significant number of our members will not vote for them or will abstain.

This positive vote is therefore not a blank cheque. It is the conviction that we must not give up the fight in Strasbourg, but that we must still act to ensure that the law is respected, whatever the cost, in this great country of the Council of Europe that is Russia.

I thank you for your support.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:01:40

Thank you, Mister Jacques MAIRE.

Next in the debate I call Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY from Turkey, who speaks on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mister Hişyar ÖZSOY, you have the floor.

M. Hişyar ÖZSOY

Turquie, GUE, Porte-parole du groupe

16:01:55

Thank you Mr Chair.

I would like to start by expressing my thanks to Mr Piero FASSINO, who put together such a delicate report on such an important issue.

I mean, we have been in the Committee meetings over the last two days, and we have discussed so many issues, some of which are included in the Resolution here.

Nobody, I think here in this Assembly, is saying that there are no problems in Russia and with Russia. There are all kinds of problems there. For example, just naming a few, the recently amended law on foreign agents, undesirable organisations, and extremism, the closure of Memorial, the plight of Mr Alexei Navalny, and of course the further militarisation of the Ukrainian-Russian border. There, everybody is very much concerned about that.

In addition to these problems and many others, there is also, and I would like to emphasise here, the Assembly expresses its utmost disappointment that none of its recommendations included in Resolution 2363, which was the resolution on the challenge of credentials of the Russian delegation on substantive grounds last year. None of those recommendations have been fulfilled.

Then, there is the lack of co‑operation of the Russian Federation with the Assembly in the preparation of several reports. When you look into the Resolution, the first ten articles are actually describing some of the problems that we are having.

Here, I think the issue is this. It is not that those who want to ratify the credentials, including myself and many in my group. It is not that we support or we approve what Russian authorities have been doing with respect to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. We do have the same concerns. I think only here there is a matter of how we want to deal with this issue. Maybe swift punishment, maybe putting some sanctions here and there, or trying to still engage them despite all these problems.

In that sense, I think there is a consensus that things are going very wrong, and many of the practices of the Russian delegation, for example, refusing to co‑operate with institutions or Committees of this very Assembly. I mean, it's totally unacceptable. Nobody can support that.

I would like to urge the Russian delegation, who are listening to us now hopefully, that a possible ratification of these credentials does not mean that this Assembly is okay with the kind of violations happening in your territories. It is only another kind and sincere invitation for meaningful dialogue towards achieving some concrete results with respect to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:05:18

The next speaker in our debate is Mr Frank SCHWABE, from Germany, on behalf of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens.

You have the floor, Mister Frank SCHWABE.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC, Porte-parole du groupe

16:05:36

Thank you very much, Mister President, even to mention the full name of our group.

As colleagues mentioned already, it's the same procedure we have regularly at the beginning of each year. Maybe in the view of some of us, it's necessary, but for sure it's a different situation now in Europe. Europe is discussing troops, Russian troops around Ukraine. I fully understand it. It's not just that Russia has already already territory from Ukraine. We really stand in solidarity, and we have to be in solidarity with Ukraine, with the colleagues here as well.

However, the situation is generally the same situation as before. It just makes no sense. If we are a big organisation, and we have different parts and bodies, it makes no sense that on the level of the Committee of Ministers Russians participate and at the end we cut colleagues, members of parliament, for the possibility to discuss here with us.

Because of this the vast majority, there are other opinions as well, but the vast majority is in favour of supporting the report by Mr Piero FASSINO.

For sure we are concerned about the situation around Ukraine. Even if you think in the future we should not give the credentials to the Russian delegation, then now is really not the right time because now, on the one hand, we should be clear. The world is in a way and united about the aggression and about troops around Ukraine, and I call it a kind of aggression what is going on there. We can all see the pictures. On the other hand we have to speak, and we have to open formats to discuss with Russia. It would be the totally wrong signal from Strasbourg to the world and to Europe if we change this here.

So to give the credentials, colleagues mentioned already, is nothing to say we are happy with the human rights situation, the situation of democracy, and the rule of law in Russia. In opposition is very disappointing. It was a clear signal, I think, from some colleagues here in the majority not to accept Mr Petr TOLSTOI as vice president here. I think it was clear signal from this Parliamentary Assembly.

We are really disturbed about the shutdown or the possible shutdown of Memorial, an organisation that you should fund if you haven't already.

For sure, I underline again, there are two red lines from me in this organisation. But as a whole, the first is the fulfilment of the judgment of the court, and Mr Navalny has to be released. Finito la musica. This is what they have to do. The second one is to give access to rapporteurs and to others to go to the country. We cannot accept a country, Russia or wherever, to decide on their own whom they let and wouldn't let into the country.

One example is Ms Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR from my group. She is responsible for political prisoners in Russia, and there's a clear letter from Mr Petr TOLSTOI not to allow her to go to the country. It is not acceptable. We really have to look into it and to make a report about the obligations and how they fulfil them in the Russian Federation.

For today we are in favour. I ask you to support Mr Piero FASSINO's report.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:09:12

Thank you, Msiter Frank SCHWABE.

The next speaker in the debate will be Mr Aleksander POCIEJ, from Poland. He speaks on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Aleksander, you have the floor.

M. Aleksander POCIEJ

Pologne, PPE/DC, Porte-parole du groupe

16:09:25

Thank you very much, President.

Dear colleagues, I would like to start with congratulations to Mr Piero FASSINO but also to Mr Samad SEYIDOV. To start your duties with such a hot topic is really challenging, and I wish you, in the future, some less stressful duties.

The Group of the European People's Party fully shares the view of the Monitoring Committee about the deteriorating situation with regards to pluralism, human rights, and fundamental freedoms in the Russian Federation and the way the last election was held. We also acknowledge that there are different views in this Assembly on the possible response. While some put emphasis on sending a clear message by not ratifying the credentials, others focus on the value of dialogue, even if it is a difficult one. They, I understand, want to send a clear message.

Colleagues, Russian Parliamentarians, we can discuss.

These are tactical dilemmas that are also present in our group. Since the return of the Russian Federation to the Assembly in June 2019, the Assembly highlighted a number of negative tendencies with regard to our core values in the Russian Federation, including the crackdown on civil society, extra-parliamentary opposition and critical journalists. I must underline, as well, this return was based – I mean the return of the Russian Federation – was based on mutual trust that the position of Russian citizens will improve.

Also, unfortunately, no progress has been made with regard to implementing a series of pacts or resolutions with regard to Eastern Ukraine, Crimea, and occupied Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. As a Pole, I feel and share the threat and anger of the citizens of those countries. As well, Russia's lack of progress in implementing Resolutions 1990, 2034, 2063 and so on and so on are not the best sign.

Yes, we are divided in this organisation on how to respond. we can understand that there is a majority to keep Russia inside our family for several reasons. Yet, on the essential issues, on the substance, the EPP stands united. We firmly condemn the closure of Memorial, the arrest of Alexei Navalny, and the escalation of tensions that threaten European security.

Thank you very much.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:13:04

Thank you, Mister Aleksander POCIEJ.

That concludes the contributions on behalf of the five political groups.

We're now going to continue with the rest of the speakers list.

First in the debate I call Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS from Lithuania.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS, you have the floor.

M. Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lituanie, PPE/DC

16:13:30

Thank you. Thank you, Mister Chairman.

I've been here in this Assembly since '93, 1993.

I remember the years of Russia's democratic society. First of all I remember the years in the nineties when we had thousands of Russians demonstrating in favour of Baltic independence. However, we were never part of the Soviet Union, and not a single western country recognised our belonging to the Soviets. However, we had massive support for freedom in Moscow.

Now, after 31 years, all those people who were in favour of democracy are now under repression. They're in jails. They've had a huge retreat even from the year 1996.

Mister Chairman, Dear Colleagues.

In 1996, the membership of Russia: the Baltic states, the Baltic delegations, and Poland voted in favour. Everyone voted in favour for Russia to be our member, and a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. I remember the obligation to withdraw the 14th Army from Moldova, the obligation to pay compensations to the deportees to gulags during the Joseph Stalin era were very visible. Sergei Kovalev was a member, a famous Russian democrat, a friend of Sakharov, was the member of the Russian delegation.

Who are the members now of the Russian delegation? Do we have the real opposition there inside? No. We have free and fair elections? No. What do we have? We have the historical society Memorial, who should clean Russia of the memory of Joseph Stalin, closed down. Boris Nemtsov's report: the Russian delegation didn't participate in the report on the killing of the former leader of Russia's opposition.

Foreign countries are under pressure. Resolutions about bringing back Georgia's territory have not been implemented. Bringing back Ukrainian territory has not implemented. Crimea is under Russian protection.

The members of parliament, dear Chairman, members of the Parliament of Russia voted in favour of the occupation of Crimea, of a neighbouring state and Crimea. Is that okay?

I'm sorry. Today I would like to give great thanks to Mr Piero FASSINO, who accepted mostly all amendments from the people who are said they are in need. They're under Russia's siege from neighbouring states. However, the main amendment was to withdraw the Russian army.

Thank you for all the Monitoring Committee members who voted in favour. Mostly all, with one exclusion, to withdraw the Russian army from neighbouring states.

I would like you to say that enough is enough. We should probably not raise the question until the Russian invasion, about them being on the side of the Committee of Ministers, that means membership. I would like to say to Mr Frank SCHWABE membership of the Parliamentary Assembly requires the parliamentary line together with us. Not letting our reporters work together means not letting our reports being issued in co‑operation with the Russian authorities. It means that obligations are not implemented. For that reason I would like to stop Russia from being on the parliamentary site among us.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:17:09

Thank you very much.

Next in the debate I call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO from Ukraine.

Oleksii, you have the floor.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

16:17:18

Thank you.

You know, you can read this report. Everything is right except the conclusion!

Russia is violating everything, but the conclusion is: OK, let's not react at all.

It's unbelievable. I just want to remind you in 2005 former KGB agent Vladimir Putin said that the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century is the collapse of the Soviet Union, and he started to rebuild the Soviet Union.

Just take a look: Kazakhstan, Belarus, occupied territory of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova. What else do you need? This year will make 100 years of the creation of the Soviet Union. Putin likes symbols. If Ukraine will fall, Putin will go further. I just want to remind you that the Soviet Empire and the Russian Empire controlled half of Europe: Finland, Poland, Baltic countries, Czechs, Slovaks. Putin sees you as his property, too. No questions about this. You should understand it.

A special question to Germany. He says Germany is also his property. Now in the Ukrainian Constitution we have our will to become a member of the European Union. We have an association agreement with the European Union. What should I answer to Ukrainians who asked me how our European allies can help us? How can I explain to them when Germany won't yield its skies to send weapons to Ukraine?

Who is helping us? The United States and Canada. They're not members of the EU. The United Kingdom. Thank you very much. No more a member of EU. Germany won't yield its skies? If Germany or any other countries do not yield their skies for aircraft with weapons for Ukraine, then you will see in these skies Russian bombers. Then you will see Russian wolves on your territory. Just don't forget this. I think that's important.

I just want to tell you that one rifle today costs much more than 1 000 concerns. We're fed up with concerns. We need to react, we need to do something. I address this Assembly. Let's do something.

Ukraine, yes, we have guts, we have strength, we will fight for ourselves, and we will win with or without your help, but with your help we will win quicker. The victims will be much less, there will be no big war in Ukraine if the aggressor sees that you are ready to fight. You can do it, just in this Assembly. Just to vote not to ratify the credentials, and not be frightened by Putin.

Just remember: this organisation is a watchdog of democracy, human rights. Where is this watchdog? What is the watchdog that can advise but can only lick? Putin likes it, yes, but the end of this will be awful.

I just want to tell you, maybe it's very comfortable to have Ukraine as a shield, but it's not good. I ask you to support Ukraine. I ask you to support your own countries not to enable a big war, but to stop the aggressor now. An aggressor only understands strength.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:20:27

Thank you, Mister Oleksii GONCHARENKO.

Next in the debate, I call Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK from Ukraine.

You have the floor, Madam.

Mme Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ADLE

16:20:36

Thank you very much. 

Distinguished Members of the Assembly, Mister President.

Let’s admit that we do have substantive grounds not to ratify the credentials of the Russian Federation. As the rapporteur correctly mentioned, the Russian Federation did not fulfil any of the resolutions since 2009 concerning Russia. In addition, the decisions of the European Court for Human Rights had been ignored by Russian authorities, and the Navalny case is a really good illustrative case. Moreover, Russian authorities openly say that they do not even plan to implement the ECHR's decisions. This aggressive and arrogant attitude had been visible to the international community during a certain period of time.

At this very moment, more than 100 000 Russian militaries are concentrated at the Ukrainian border. How do you imagine the possibility of having a dialogue with a Russian tank? Or will we allow one of the member States to implement only the resolutions and decisions of the ECHR that they like?

The Assembly, as well as other international institutions, serve as pillars for peace and democracy in Europe and across the world. While the European Union has political profiling and leverages, the NATO and the OSCE deal with security issues. Yes, they have to continue the dialogue under any conditions, but the Assembly and the Council of Europe set the rule of law as the top priority. Each line of the report is about the breaches of the rule of law by the Russian Federation.

I really thank the Monitoring Committee and the rapporteur for accepting some of the amendments to this report, but it is not enough. I call the Assembly members not to ratify the credentials of the Parliamentary Delegation of the Russian Federation.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:22:59

Thank you, Madam Yevheniia KRAVCHUK.

Next in the debate I call Mr Sergey KISLYAK from the Russian Federation.

You have the floor.

M. Sergey KISLYAK

Fédération de Russie, NI

16:23:13

Thank you. Thank you, Mister President. 

I must say that the attempt by our opponent to deprive the delegation of its credentials has become a PACE tradition, but it is not a tradition that puts this organisation in a positive light. On the contrary, this is damaging for all of us, and it really undermines the competence of the Parliamentary Assembly in the European space and the European area. 

The authors and those who want to challenge our credentials are not really interested in this organisation functioning well. I mean there is an obvious tendentiousness in this Russophobic approach, and they do not make any reference to PACE as a forum for dialogue and an opportunity for different points of view to be expressed. It is obvious that they are not interested in that. 

For colleagues that are from Ukraine, PACE is just one more instrument, one more tool, to vehiculate their anti-Russian feeling. 

Now for us, to work in the Parliamentary Assembly is not something that we do for our own benefit. On the contrary, we do it for the common good. To be so anti-Russian, so Russophobic, is an undermining of that noble goal. 

Now, of course, we do have different points of view, sometimes serious differences of points of view, sometimes very serious differences. That is true within individual delegations, but it is not by fomenting anti-Russian feelings that we can exchange those views. I mean we come to the Assembly, or we connect over the internet to hear one another, to hear ourselves out, to understand our differences in point of view. We are members of the Assembly for that very purpose. We are prepared to continue to work, to listen to those who do not agree with us, to express our own views. However, we will not accept that threats and punishment be levelled against our delegation – I am quoting here one of the Ukrainian speakers.

The only basis for the Parliamentary Assembly to work is with mutual respect and on an equal footing. I mean there is this supposed concern for human rights and the rule of law but those who claim that this is a problem in the Russian Federation should really be looking in the mirror every morning and thinking about the way that minorities are treated in Ukraine: the fact that Russian-speaking children cannot be educated in their own language, that there is an undermining of the rights of Russian speakers in the Baltic states. In the 21st century, minorities are persecuted. That list could be continued somewhat at length, but I understand that my time has come to an end. 

Thank you. 

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:26:57

The time is the same for everybody, and I want to keep a balance with everybody.

Thank you very much, Mister KISLYAK.

The next speaker will be Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ from Lithuania.

You have the floor.

Lima is not yet connected at this moment. We'll come back to her.

The next speaker in the debate, I call Mr Uldis BUDRIĶIS from Latvia.

You have the floor.

M. Uldis BUDRIĶIS

Lettonie, PPE/DC

16:27:47

Dear Mister President, Colleagues,

Once more, congratulations on your election. Even though there were other candidacies, I respect the decision of the Assembly. This is what happens in normal democracies and normal democratic elections.

Which brings me to my point. The Russian delegation has not had this kind of respect. Nor for the member States of the Assembly, nor for the resolutions passed by the Assembly. Nor for human rights, rule of law and for that matter, democratic elections as such.

We can see that Mr Navalny and his team members are now classified as terrorists. The unmatching hatred towards the sovereign member countries of this Assembly with even remarks and rhetoric on a personal level. We can even count hybrid-attacks, disinformation campaigns and so on.

With all do respect for the Hemicycle, even in the Report we can clearly see that the Russian delegation is not interested in fulfilling the recommendations. In fact, the rhetoric clearly says that they do not have any obligation to do so.

If one member State is acting like a bull in a china shop, and no one bats an eye, I don't know what to think. Rules do not apply to them. Maybe it's a vulgarity, but it’s like letting a maniac into your apartment. Come in, hit my partner, hit my wife, and let’s just talk about it. I would like to see what the reaction would be if another member State, not Russia, showed the Assembly so much disrespect.

There is no dialogue. It’s a one way street. For that matter, I don’t really understand why Russia is a part of this organisation as such.

Therefore, as I see, the only rational thing to do in this case is to please the Russian delegation and not ratify the credentials, because they clearly do not want to be here and take part in this organisation.

I call, colleagues, for your rationale and support by supporting the majority of the amendments in the Resolution.

Thank you very much.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:30:06

Thank you very much, Mister BUDRIĶIS.

Now we are having a problem with the connection with Mr Rustem UMEROV. So, now we go to Ms Irina RUKAVISHNIKOVA from the Russian Federation.

You have the floor, Madam.

Madam RUKAVISHNIKOVA, could you please ask for the floor again to be connected?

Mme Irina RUKAVISHNIKOVA

Fédération de Russie, NI

16:31:12

Mister President, Dear colleagues,

I'll start over again.

Now we can sense quite a bit of a tension, and even fatigue, because of the fact that for a third year in a row now, the opening of the PACE Session is starting with the same issue initiated by certain people against one national delegation.

Our colleagues are quite deliberately disseminating russophobic attitudes. By putting this issue on the order of business in a deliberately slanderous manner, the initiators are ignoring a pan-European problem such as the discrimination of people in Ukraine on a language basis, turning Nazis and Holocaust organisers into heroes, and the non-fulfilment by Ukraine of international agreements concerning the settlement of the conflict in Donbas, as a result of which, peace-loving citizens are dying.

I mean, it is not a gift or a promotion for us to participate in PACE. It's our right to limit the representation of a state in the bodies of the organisation, including PACE. It's a prerogative solely of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. National delegations must not have their rights limited.

That would not be in accordance of the Statutes of the Council of Europe.

If we do away with these non-constructive debates that are introducing intolerance and a poisonous atmosphere, then we would have a lot of time left over to take some very important and necessary decisions.

We have to deal with issues that are of a global importance, such as additional guarantees for people to have access to healthcare, the defence of minors from aggressive content on the internet, cyberbullying, etc.

Dear colleagues, the Russian delegation is in favour of constructive co‑operation with the exception of those cases which have to do with limiting the territorial integrity and the constitutional regime of the Russian Federation.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:33:32

Thank you, Ms Irina RUKAVISHNIKOVA.

Next in a debate, I call Ms Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN from the Netherlands. You have the floor, Ria.

Mme Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN

Pays-Bas, PPE/DC

16:33:47

Yes, Chairman.

First of all, I would sincerely thank Mr Piero FASSINO for his report. It is detailed and it covers all the problems we are actively facing with Russia.

Russia does not meet the standards as a member of the Council of Europe. Russia should be committed to democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights. The problems are listed in the report of Mr Piero FASSINO. We have concerns, big concerns: free and fair elections, the electrical framework, the crackdown on civil society and political opposition, the case of Mr Navalny, restrictive legislation on foreign agents and extremism, dissolution of Memorial, restriction on freedom of assembly and expression. Dear colleagues, also the relations with neighbouring countries which culminated now in the tensions at the Ukrainian border. Ukrainian citizens, and understand that fully, cannot sleep anymore.

President, in the report everything is listed. On the facts, we cannot have here in this house, not a misunderstanding.

President, colleagues, today, there is only one judgment which we have to make: what will be most effective? Is that an isolation or is it talking? And together, with Ms Irina RUKAVISHNIKOVA, we are both rapporteurs for monitoring, we are convinced that talking is the best way to do something and we hope that in April when our next visit will be, we can have a result and that that result will be so effective that we never discuss it anymore.

Thanks very much.

So I hope that we will vote in favour.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:35:56

Thanks a lot, Madam OOMEN-RUIJTEN.

Next in the debate I call Mr Aleksandr BASHKIN from the Russian Federation.

You have the floor, Sir.

M. Aleksandr BASHKIN

Fédération de Russie, NI

16:36:07

Thank you. Thank you, President. 

Colleagues, here at the opening of the session, we once again, have a small group of colleagues who are trying to change the way in which this Assembly is working. The arguments that they are putting forward are based on certain events that are presented in a distorted form hoping that those who are listening will think the misinformation they are providing is the truth. I will try to share the truth with you. Maybe you will understand.

First of all, the human rights interim Memorial was shut down by a court, not for its political activity but a systematic and regular violation of the law. In the Russian Federation, we have no fewer than 80 non-commercial organisations that fulfil their functions as foreign agents. No one prevents them from working, but unfortunately, not all of them are following the law. Is the law not the same for all?

Second, it is astounding to hear that some people are claiming that our parliamentary elections were not free and fair. In reality, the elections were carried out in accordance with Russian legislation and on the basis of international standards, and that was confirmed by a number of observer missions. It was only the OSCE-ODIHR mission that refused to participate, but a number of other missions did support the elections as free and fair, including a mission from PACE.

Now the claim that we are not fulfilling the resolutions of PACE is not true either. I mean, if you look at the reports of the Committee of Ministers, you will see that the number of unfulfilled decisions and judgments of the Court is declining on a regular basis. Other countries are outstripping the Russian Federation when it comes to the number of judgments that have not been executed. 

Now the fully-fledged work of national delegations can be the only basis for PACE to make progress and to achieve results. This regular insistence that Russia be excluded from the work of PACE is something that is perceived by Russian citizens as a way of excluding them from having access to democratic building instruments.

Now we cannot imagine the work of the Russian delegation in PACE without approved credentials. 

Thank you for your attention.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:39:11

Thank you, Mister BASHKIN.

Next speaker on our list is Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA.

Mme Mariia MEZENTSEVA

Ukraine, PPE/DC

16:39:22

Dear President, point of order.

Mr Rustem UMEROV, who's listed as number 7 on the list had difficulties connecting. Now he's online. If you could be so kind as to give him the floor.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:39:38

One moment, Emanuelis.

One moment. Point of order.

Yes, we will try to get connected with the speaker you mentioned.

We have sometimes problems but he will be on the list.

Mr ZINGERIS, you have a point of order.

M. Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lituanie, PPE/DC

16:39:57

A technical point of order about the connection.

The same.

Some people are indicating that it's not possible to be connected. Some speeches are interrupted by an internet break.

If somebody can take care of that, it'll be absolutely great.

Those speakers just mentioned that they should be invited to speak again.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:40:21

Thank you very much. Our people are doing their best to get everybody online.

Also a point of order?

M. Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Suisse, SOC

16:40:35

Thank you, Mr President.

I would like to intervene, because I was the chairman of the delegation that was supposed to make comments, but was not able to do so in Russia.

Earlier, our Russian colleague said that this delegation of five people claimed that everything went very well in Russia. But we did not make the observation. We really were not enough. People from the OSCE and ODIHR could not go there because they did not have the means to make a real observation. The number of authorized persons was limited, and I must say that we made many critical observations.

On the substance, moreover, at no time did we claim that these elections were perfect and legitimate. On the contrary: we said that neither all parties nor all candidates had an equal chance in these elections.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:41:30

Thank you very much, Mr FRIDEZ, for mentioning this fact.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:41:39

We now continue the debate with the next speaker.

We will get connected with those who were not yet able to do so. We will come back to them.

Next speaker on our list is Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA from Ukraine.

You have the floor, Mariia.

Mme Mariia MEZENTSEVA

Ukraine, PPE/DC

16:41:58

Thank you very much dear Chair.

You know colleagues that I have redrafted recently my intervention.

It will be very peaceful and calm, but with numerous facts. I am a bilingual Ukrainian and Russian speaking person from the East of Ukraine.

A Russian colleague just said that they're very tired for three years that we're challenging their credentials.

Well, we are very tired as Ukrainians, Georgians, the people of Moldova, of the invasion of Russia.

We are very tired and sad, and crying with our tears and hearts, because of the 45 000 people who are dead, who are not with us, who can't vote, who can't participate, who cannot see their children anymore.

We are very tired that our people who are working in healthcare had to deal with 33 000 wounded people.

I am very tired that I am sitting in Kharkiv, the second largest city of Ukraine, over two million people, getting connected online to various Committees of the PACE, and meetings, being 40 kilometres away from the tanks of Russia.

I am very tired that here in the Assembly we cannot be a real force to defend human rights.

I am very tired, colleagues, that two of my cousins are serving for eight years in the Ukrainian Army to defend the whole of Europe.

I am very tired that indeed we spend this time discussing very obvious resolutions that you, dear colleagues, voted since 2014.

And it is not only about Ukraine. Today it is about Belarus, Afghanistan, the Baltic states, every 47 member states of the Council of Europe.

70-plus years ago this institution was not created to discuss war. It was created to make peace prevail after the Second World War.

We were not planning, as the most active delegation of 2021, with the highest number of resolutions passed, amendments voted, and many things that we are bringing as non one-topic delegation. We are also tired that we continue with these discussions that bring negativity, for sure.

Colleagues, we will not be tired to go on with this, because from very recently, they are approaching us. They are approaching all of you, all of us.

This is a member state which is a concrete breacher of human rights. Each and every one of us. I refuse to accept. Sorry for these emotions, but they're coming straight from my heart. I call on you to not ratify these credentials.

Well, we will follow the rules, but we will try.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:45:07

Thank you, Madam MEZENTSEVA.

Next in the debate, I call Mr Leonid SLUTSKIY from the Russian Federation.

Mister SLUTSKIY, you have the floor.

I see why I have a switch. Thanks to modern technology, Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ is now with.

Laima, you have the floor, 3 minutes.

Mme Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ

Lituanie, PPE/DC

16:45:47

Thank you very much, Mister President.

I hope you can hear...

Independent experts have described the Duma elections as the dirtiest in Russian history. I think that the... [unintelligible due to technical difficulties].

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:46:32

Laima, Laima, I have to interrupt you. Not because you are not allowed to speak, but we have to improve the connection, because especially the translation is now very difficult.

I would propose that you start again or I look to the technicians.

Does Laima have to ask again for the floor? Would that be better? What would you propose?

Could you give it another try, Laima? We put the clock on 3 minutes, and please start again. Sorry for this inconvenience.

You know you are muted, Laima? That's far better.

Mme Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ

Lituanie, PPE/DC

16:47:34

I will try once again.

Mr President, dear colleagues, [speech is unintelligible due to technical difficulties]

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:48:17

Sorry, Madam ANDRIKIENĖ, the connection is so bad that I think that nobody can understand you now. The interpreters also cannot do their job.

I see only one other way: to ask again for the connection. If that does not work, then, unfortunately, it's no use having you in with us but not hearing you.

Could you please again start a new connection?

I now propose that we take the next speaker on our list, and we see whether we can come back to you, Laima. Sorry, sorry very much for this, but it's the connection with your parliament with us, as I am informed.

Next speaker on our list is Mr Leonid SLUTSKIY from the Russian Federation.

Mister SLUTSKIY, you have the floor.

M. Leonid SLUTSKIY

Fédération de Russie, NI

16:49:26

Good evening, Tiny, good evening, dear colleagues. 

We are talking, not just about the same issue over and over again every January, but we are hearing the same arguments and the same speeches. I mean, they are saying the same things as a year ago and two years ago. Once again, Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO is getting excited and is trying to attack the dignity of the President of the Russian Federation. He is trying once again to compare our Assembly, as he did last year, with a dog. What kind of a dog is this, says Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO, "that never barks or bites that only licks"? And that allegory in the mouth of Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO is an attack on the ethics of our Assembly and I think that the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs should assess this appropriately, as it did a year ago.

As for the substance of the issue, well the Russian Federation became a member of the Council of Europe in 1996 and over all of these years, has worked very openly and sincerely with the Assembly, we have discussed many different issues, such as the issue of human rights in the South Caucasus, but many others as well. We have resolved a lot of matters that have made it possible for our country to move toward democratisation, the rule of law and respect of human rights in accordance with the high standards of the Council of Europe.

And these attacks on our country have no basis whatsoever and there is, once again, an attempt to take abusive use of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly to attack the Russian Federation. There is no dislocation, no movement of Russian armed forces toward the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. That is bald-faced lying propaganda in the best tradition of the former Soviet Union.

The Russian Federation resolutely rejects those unfounded attacks that we have heard in the course of today's discussion.

We are open to very constructive work and I thank Mr Piero FASSINO for the key position that he has taken: namely that the credentials of the Russian Federation delegation should be confirmed, despite the fact that he has agreed to a number of amendments that we cannot agree with. 

We are prepared to work with other delegations of the Parliamentary Assembly in a constructive manner and to build together a new European architecture. 

Thank you. 

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:52:57

Thank you very much.

Sorry, Mr GONCHARENKO, please wait.

You say a point of order, then the rules say: Mr GONCHARENKO has a point of order. You have the floor, sir.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

16:53:15

Thank you very much, Mister President.

I was mentioned by name two times by Mr Leonid SLUTSKIY so I have a right to answer.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:53:35

Please, please, sit down.

I have the honour that I was elected president and the rules say that I decide which point of order can be taken. And therefore you cannot give yourself extra time, but we have Mr Rustem UMEROV online who we could not give the floor before.

So I now give Mr UMEROV from Ukraine the floor. Sir?

M. Rustem UMEROV

Ukraine, ADLE

16:54:06

Hi everybody,

Dear President, distinguished colleagues,

Today I want to remind you that the Council of Europe was founded in the wake of World War II to uphold human rights, democracy, and the rule of law in Europe.

None of this is present in modern Russia. Moreover the Kremlin rudely violates human rights both of its own citizens as well as citizens of other countries, particularly Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in temporarily occupied Crimea.

Last year in June, PACE adopted the resolution ¨"Human Rights Violations Committed against Crimean Tatars in Crimea" with 73 votes in favour. By this resolution, the Assembly condemned Russia's occupation of Crimea as well as urged Russia to stop violating the rights of Crimean Tatars. Unfortunately, over the last year, persecutions and repressions against Crimean Tatars had only increased.

During September 2021, tens  of Crimean Tatars were arrested for their political position, particularly deputy chairperson of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Nariman Dzhelyal was arrested and still remains illegally detained by occupying authorities. This was a response of the occupier to Mr Dzhelyal for participating in Crimea platform last year in Kiev.

Our colleagues from the Monitoring Committee have also highlighted that there was a negative tendency in Russia with regard to democracy, the rule of law, human rights in Russian Federation, including the crackdown on civil society, extra parliamentary opposition, and critical journalists. It called for an immediate release of Mr Navalny and a meaningful investigation in cooperation with our organisation of the prohibition of chemical weapons.

None of this has happened.

Dear colleagues, there is no place for hypocrisy and double standards in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Thank you very much.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

16:56:17

Thank you very much, Mr Rustem UMEROV. I'm happy that we could finally get connected with you.

We did not manage to get the connection fixed with Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ. That means that this ends the list of speakers.

I now ask Mr Piero FASSINO, the rapporteur, if he wishes to reply. We have a maximum of 3 minutes.

Mr Piero FASSINO, please ask for the floor.

M. Piero FASSINO

Italie, SOC, Rapporteur

16:56:57

Thank you, Mr President.

In three minutes, two things.

The first thing: I address all our colleagues who are against ratification and I ask them this question. We have no more tools if we refuse to ratify the powers. What dialogue can we have with the Russian authorities if we build a wall and if we interrupt all our relations? We will have no influence. We will not help those in Russia who work every day to assert the rule of law, to respect human, civil and political rights, to help the opposition forces. Isolation will not help to fight for these points. Isolation can only be favorable to those who hold power.

I think that ratification does not mean hiding all the critical problems that exist today but, on the contrary, maintaining a dialogue and a relationship in order to be able to influence and try to work with our Russian colleagues to change positions.

I would now like to address my Russian colleagues: you should not think that all the criticisms are only the expression of a form of russophobia. Personally, I am a friend of Russia, but I am very worried about the Ukrainian question. I think that we should avoid the big mistake of dismantling the NGO Memorial. And I think that the Navalny case has not, until today, been dealt with sincerely by the Russian authorities.

I say this, but I am not inspired by russophobia: I am inspired by the values of our Assembly, which are the values of the Assembly in which you participate and in the name of which I propose the ratification of your credentials. You must understand that you have not fulfilled many of the recommendations that our Assembly has made to you. These recommendations are not inspired by prejudice, but are instruments to work together and to solve the problems that exist, to try to get out of this tense and complicated situation.

For these reasons, I think it is useful and appropriate to ratify the credentials of the Russian delegation, even if each of us has doubts about the attitude of the Russian authorities. There are criticisms that are not hidden. But I think that in politics, dialogue is the main instrument to use and not censorship or rupture.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:00:27

Thank you very much, Mister Rapporteur.

What did you say...

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

17:00:50

I tried to send a message at the end of debate. According to Rule 22.6, I have a right to respond.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:00:57

I have already ruled that you do not have that right.  It is a pity but you have to accept my ruling.

I now give the floor to the Vice-Chairperson of the Committee. You have 3 minutes, Mr Samad SEYIDOV.

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:01:15

Thank you very much, Mister Chairman.

On behalf of the chair of the Monitoring Committee, as a newly elected her Vice-Chair I would like to inform you briefly about the Committee's work with regard to the preparation of the report of the challenging of the credentials of the Russian Federation, which we already debated right now, but also more generally about the work of the Committee with regards to the monitoring of the Russian Federation.

Actually, it's the practice that the Chair of the Committee should present these notes to the Parliamentary Assembly meeting, but to take into account that Mr Piero FASSINO has been appointed as a rapporteur on this very very important issue. As a first Vice-Chair I am just now here and try to present these notes to our respective colleagues.

I would like to congratulate our rapporteur Mr Piero FASSINO for the great job. He was just recently elected as a Chairman of the Monitoring Committee. At the same time he has been appointed as a rapporteur for this very important for Council of Europe and the Russian credentials.

As you can see, the Committee is of the opinion that the credentials of the Russian Delegation should be ratified despite critical assessment of the development in the country both internally and with impact on the neighbouring countries and security in Europe.

However, the majority of the members of the Monitoring Committee agreed that the Council of Europe should be instrumental in continuing dialogue. The Assembly is indeed the unique pan-European platform for exchange of opinions on the parliamentary level. The co‑operation between the delegation of the Monitoring Committee gives us hopes that we can make some impact on the country's progress with regard to our values.

Our two monitoring rapporteurs of the Russian Federation, Ms Ria OOMEN-RUIJTEN and Mr Axel SCHÄFER, carried out the visit to Moscow last July, and that was despite very difficult sanitary conditions in Europe. They discussed their outstanding concerns with regards to democracy, rule of law, and human rights situation in the Russian Federation in the context of Russian compliance with its commitments and obligations in the Council of Europe.

They are planning another visit quite soon to continue the dialogue and, in particular, to discuss concrete measures which should be taken in order to fulfil the Assembly's recommendation.

The monitoring report of the Russian Federation will be submitted later this year.

Dear friends, dear colleagues, with a view to continuing this dialogue and co‑operation, I call the members of the Assembly to vote in favour of the text submitted to by the Monitoring Committee today.

Thank you very much, Mister Chairman.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:04:10

Thank you Mr Samad SEYIDOV.

That concludes the debate.

The Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) has presented the draft resolution which you find in Document 15443, to which 19 amendments have been tabled.

The amendments will be taken in order in which they appear in the final compendium.

I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to one minute.

I remind you that members of the delegation of the Russian Federation whose credentials are challenged shall not vote in any proceedings relating to the examination of the credentials which concern them.

I understand that Mr Piero FASSINO wishes to propose to the Assembly that amendment 10 to the draft resolution which was adopted unanimously should be declared as agreed.

Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS you asked for the floor? You have a point of order? Because otherwise you cannot interfere.

M. Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lituanie, PPE/DC

17:05:08

I understand and I know that.

Simply, my remark. As the Chairman of my Lithuanian delegation, I just wanted to ask you to say that the people who were disapproved from the right to say like our Vice-President Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ, we can have the right to include her speech in our debate. 

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:05:35

That is an excellent point of order Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS and I should have read it but not everything that I should have read is there, but you are completely right and we are looking forward to the intervention of Ms Laima Liucija ANDRIKIENĖ in written form.

Mr Piero FASSINO proposes to have this amendment adopted because it was unanimously adopted. Does anybody oppose?

Amendment 10, which was unanimously adopted. I don't see anyone.

As there are no objections I declare that Amendment 10 to the draft resolution has been agreed upon.

I call Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK to support amendment 9. Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK, you have one minute to present your amendment.

Vote : Contestation, pour des raisons substantielles, des pouvoirs non encore ratifiés de la délégation parlementaire de la Fédération de Russie

Mme Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ADLE

17:06:25

Thank you Mr President,

Amendment 9 suggests switching paragraphs, so we could put the higher priority on the notion of Russia's build up of military troops along the border of Ukraine, which almost all of the members of the Assembly that took part in the debate mentioned.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:06:46

Thank you, Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment? I do not see anybody, nor online.

What is the opinion of the Committee on the amendment, Mr Samad SEYIDOV?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:07:05

The large majority is in favour. Yes.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:07:09

Large majority in favour.

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote in the hemicycle and via remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed. May I please ask for the results to be displayed?

Amendment 9 is carried.

I call Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK to support Amendment 10, and again, one minute.

Sorry, I'm just the president for three days, so you make mistakes!

I now come to amendment 1 - I now call Mr Roberto RAMPI to support amendment 1. You have one minute.

As I do not see Mr Roberto RAMPI, Ms Petra BAYR, would you be able to present this amendment 1?

Mr Frank SCHWABE, you have the floor.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:09:14

Mr President, this is just to change the Resolution 2363 to "in all resolutions entitled" because, unfortunately, it is not just one resolution where we are upmost disappointed about the Russian behaviour towards this resolution.

So please vote in favour.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:09:35

Thank you very much, Mr SCHWABE.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr MAIRE, you have the floor.

M. Jacques MAIRE

France, ADLE

17:09:43

I think that sometimes the best is the enemy of the good.

When we refer to the 2021 resolution, we know exactly what we are referring to and these are issues that are still relevant. When we refer to past resolutions, perhaps the powers that were challenged in 2008, 2010, 2012 on issues that are no longer relevant.

So, in fact, by wanting to add resolutions, we completely "defocus", I would say, the text, and we make it less operative. I think that it is really in everyone's interest to focus on the 2021 resolution.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:10:17

The opinion of the Committee on the amendment? 

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:10:23

The Committee is in favour.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:10:25

The Committee is in favour.

I shall now put the amendment to the vote.

The vote in hemicycle and via remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed. Please display the results.

The amendment is carried.

I call Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA to support amendment 7. You have one minute, Madam.

Mme Mariia MEZENTSEVA

Ukraine, PPE/DC

17:11:21

Mr President,

The logic is very clear here.

I will not bother you colleagues with reciting paragraph 11.

However, in the very end of it there are very very important words such as follows: "Russian Federation fully participates in its bodies", "cooperates mechanisms and activities".

I think with the name and resolutions in previous paragraphs, and breaching them and not fulfilling them for so many years, we have a very accurate understanding that this is not very true.

Therefore, with this amendment with colleagues, we suggest in this paragraph, just not to play with the words but delete the whole paragraph which says that the Russian Federation is very cooperative.

Thank you dear Chair.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:12:17

Thank you, Madam.

Mr SCHWABE wants to speak against it.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:12:23

This is just a description of what the Council of Europe has to do.

It's about our work. And we have to work together with all our member countries. And for sure we have to do it with Russia in the same way like the others, so it's just the description. I don't know why we should delete the description. So I recommend not to vote in favour of this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:12:45

Thank you.

What is the opinion of the Committee on the amendment?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:12:49

Mr President, the committee is against.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:12:54

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote in the hemicycle and via remote voting is now open.

The vote is closed. Please display the results.

The amendment is rejected.

Now I call on Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO to support amendment 16. Also for you, you have one minute, sir. Thank you. 

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

17:14:04

First of all, I would like to thank our true friends from the Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, for their constant support here in the Assembly, and also in response:

Ačiū, paldies, aitäh ("thank you" in Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian)

About this amendment, that's just technical wording. We think there should be better, more precise wording, so I ask everybody to support it.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:14:28

Thank you, Mr GONCHARENKO.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr SCHWABE.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:14:35

Unfortunately it's not just the wording, and Mr GONCHARENKO knows it very well, because you reduce the description of where Russia should participate and, again, it's like before: if a country is member then they are full member and we asked them to fully cooperate as stated in the description and so I ask you to vote against this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:14:59

What is the opinion of the Committee?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:15:04

President, the Committee is against.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:15:07

Thank you very much.

I shall now put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

May I have the results displayed?

The Amendment is not carried.

We now come to Amendment 6 and Amendment 17.

I draw the attention to the fact that Amendment 6 and 17, in the names of Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV and Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO, are identical.

As Amendment 6 was tabled first, I will call the mover of that Amendment to move both amendments.

As Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV is not connected...

Sorry, Mister Serhii SOBOLIEV.

This is really a mistake. You're sitting right in front of me.

You have the floor.

M. Serhii SOBOLIEV

Ukraine, PPE/DC

17:16:37

Thank you very much, dear colleagues.

This amendment is about the real fact that you can find on all other items of our resolution, about the cooperation. Cooperation means fulfil the resolution or recognize the resolution. So we ascertained that no one resolution was fulfilled for all previous time, so about what cooperation we're saying? Even more, the last decision of the Russian authorities to recognize Mr Navalny as a terrorist I think is the answer to all our propositions.

So my proposition: to delete this paragraph and all other paragraphs we have in the text.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:17:29

Thank you, Mr Serhii SOBOLIEV, and once again sorry for not seeing you immediately.

Does anybody want to speak to both amendments which are identical? Mister Frank SCHWABE.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:17:43

In a way, we have a lot of paragraphs and a lot of amendments not to, let's say, describe what should be the description, if I may quote. What you want to delete is the sentence: "The Assembly should use this opportunity to have an impact on developments in the Russian Federation with regard to democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights".

Maybe you do not believe that we have this chance, but we should try our utmost to reach this. I do not know why we should delete this.

So, I ask you to vote against this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:18:14

Thank you, Mister SCHWABE.

What is the opinion of the Committee, Mister SEYIDOV?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:18:19

Mister President, the Committee is against.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:18:22

I now shall put the vote amendments to the vote. You cannot interfere during the vote. 

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

May I have the results displayed?

Vote amendments have been rejected.

We come to Amendment No. 8. I ask Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO to support this amendment, in 1 minute.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

17:19:31

We're speaking about paragraph 13.

We propose to delete it because it says, I quote, "it should also be highlighted that more generally, the Russian Federation is an active member of the Council of Europe intensively involved in its numerous activities".

Sorry, is violating all of our rules active involvement?

So certainly I will propose to delete this paragraph.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

17:19:51

Quite separately, and for Mr Leonid SLUTSKIY, a watchdog really means someone who watches out. To be Putin's lackey is no honour.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:20:09

Thank you very much.

Please, use your speaking time to stick to the amendment, Mr GONCHARENKO.

I said it once.

Who wants to speak against the amendment?

Mr SCHWABE.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:20:22

It's almost the same as before. This is just a description, for sure.

I would say Russia does not fulfil almost anything of what they should fulfil, but we cannot say they are not active members because they participate in our meetings and in our discussions.

This is just a description. For sure it should stay inside.

I'm against this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:20:49

Thank you very much, Mister SCHWABE.

Mister SEYIDOV, the opinion of the Committee?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:20:56

Mr President, the Committee is against.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:20:58

Thank you very much, Mister Samad SEYIDOV.

I put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

Please, display the results.

The Amendment is rejected.

I call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO to support Amendment 18.

You have 1 minute.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

17:22:04

Dear colleagues, we propose just to delete the word "also" because it's hard to understand. What does it mean "also"? It is said it should "also" be highlighted. So "also" means that we have a number of positive things from Russian Federation. Which number? The whole report is about violation on violation on violation. What was done during the three years that the Russian Federation came back here? It was said at that moment that there will be progress, that we will have a dialogue, and the result of the dialogue will be good progress.

Please, show me any progress, dear colleagues, just show me one progress during three years. Only worsening from day to day. And now we're putting what "also". So it means that we are tricking ourselves. It's no sense in tricking ourselves. There is a sense to say truth. So delete the word "also", at least.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:22:57

Thank you, Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO.

Who wants to speak against Mr Frank SCHWABE?

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:23:04

For sure it is not the most important thing whether this is inside or not. In a way it is just a kind of enumeration. It also means it concludes into the next paragraph

In the end I think we should leave it inside. My heart is not dying about it, but I will vote against it.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:23:24

Thank you very much Mr Frank SCHWABE.

Mr Samad SEYIDOV, the opinion of the Committee?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:23:31

Concerning amendment 18, the Committee is in favour with a small majority.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:23:40

Thank you very much Mr Samad SEYIDOV.

I shall now put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

May I have the results displayed?

The amendment is carried.

I now call Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA to support amendment 9.

You have one minute Madam.

Mme Mariia MEZENTSEVA

Ukraine, PPE/DC

17:24:33

Thank you, Dear Chair, Colleagues.

We spoke a lot today about the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Today the Netherlands and Ukraine at this moment are in the case against Russia. This is the biggest case in the ECHR's history. We will see what the result is. In this Amendment No. 19 we suggest emphasising what the resolution is already speaking about. The decisions of the ECHR are to be respected because of the very unfortunate changes in the Russian constitution.

We would like to suggest replacing "an important argument" with "the only justified argument" to get a little bit stronger law wording.

Thank you, Dear Chair.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:25:23

Thank you, Madam.

Mr Frank SCHWABE wants to speak against.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:25:29

Although I think, and always said, like others as well, that the Court is the heart of the organisation, there are other things to do as well.

I would say at the end we should not say it's the only justified argument that Russia is a part of because they are rapporteurs. Myself, I'm able to go to the North Caucasus. I think it has something to do with with our organisation, so I think it should stay like it is, so I ask you to vote against this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:25:58

Thank you.

Opinion of the Committee?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:26:01

Mister President, the Committee is against. 

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:26:05

I now put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

Vote is closed.

The results can be displayed.

The amendment is rejected.

I call Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS to support amendment 4. And you have also one minute.

M. Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lituanie, PPE/DC

17:27:00

Yes, Dear Colleagues,

Two days ago I made a proposal to have this non-ratification of Russian credentials for the reason that critical mass of violation from the Russian side is achieved. For that reason, I'm asking you to make Russia more serious about all possible violations mentioned by all of you and to vote in favour of the amendment not to ratify Russian credentials.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:27:40

Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr Frank SCHWABE.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:27:47

Now we come to the most important amendments, because if there would be an adaption, we would turn the whole report to the opposite.

Because of this I ask you not to do so.

So we should ratify the credentials.

To do so we have to be against the amendment.

So I ask you to vote against.

I ask you to vote no.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:28:07

Thank you.

The opinion of the Committee, Mr Samad SEYIDOV.

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:28:11

Mr President, the Committee is against.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:28:14

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed. May I ask for the results to be displayed.

The amendment is rejected.

I call Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO to support amendment 11. You have one minute, sir.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

17:29:17

Thank you, Mister Chairman.

We propose to add the next words while depriving them so to ratify, if you so much want to ratify for dialogue, for everything, for defence of European Court of Human Rights, for Russian citizens, but don't forget that Putin changed the Constitution and now they can neglect it. But okay. But if ratify we propose to do it like this, while depriving them of the right to be appointed rapporteurs according to the rule 50.1.

Because it's clear that the representatives of a country which violating everything, which is said in this report, couldn't be rapporteurs. That is, like, absolutely clear. And we need to show something, because what has changed? Three years ago we said come back. Two years ago we said come back. One year ago we said come back. Nothing is changing, but we are not pushing them at all in any way.

So, please, let's do this. This is a small thing but important.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:30:16

Thank you, Mister Oleksii GONCHARENKO.

Mr Frank SCHWABE wants to speak against it.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:30:22

It's okay to argue, but Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO. You know very well that is not a small thing. This is about everything. It looks like a part of something. But in the end, I think we learned in the last years that if we act in a way, we should act together as a whole organisation, and we should not pick just a part.

In the end, if the Russian Federation is part of the organisation, they should have the right in the end to do what we can do as well. They should have the right to appoint rapporteurs.

Because of this, I ask you to be against this Amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:30:58

Thank you, the opinion of the committee, Mr Samad SEYIDOV?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:31:01

Mister President, the amendment has been rejected by a two-thirds majority. Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:31:08

Thank you very much.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed. May I ask for the results to be displayed?

The Amendment is rejected.

I call Ms Mariia MEZENTSEVA to support Amendment 13. You have 1 minute, Madam.

Mme Mariia MEZENTSEVA

Ukraine, PPE/DC

17:31:58

Thank you Dear Chair, Colleagues.

To make it very easy, you remember there was an initiative of the Committee on Health Issues to carry out an off-site meeting of this very committee in Moscow, which was cancelled after several discussions and different considerations.

This very particular amendment traces us back to the same decision.

If the credentials are ratified, at least, the off-site meeting of various committees, subcommittees, or thematic platforms are not carried in the member State of the Russian Federation.

Thank you, Dear Chair. 

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:32:40

Thank you, Madam.

Mr Frank SCHWABE wants to speak again.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:32:47

Thank you.

Like before, and the same as in general, all the member countries have the obligation to let everybody inside the country even those, we discussed it several times, where they have a ban on the EU, from Russia are entitled to come here to Strasbourg. All the member countries are obliged to let everybody into the country. It is not necessary to change the rules.

Here, now, if the case happens that the country does not act according to this rules, then we have to act. For sure, we will act, so it is not necessary to do it now.

I ask you to vote against this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:33:24

The opinion of the committee?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:33:28

The opinion of the Committee is that the Amendment has to be rejected.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:33:32

I now will put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed. May I please ask for the results to be displayed?

The Amendment is rejected.

I call Mr GONCHARENKO to support Amendment 14.

You have 1 minute, Sir.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD

17:34:34

Thank you.

The same. We propose the smallest possible punishment for what has been done.

We propose not to allow members of Russian delegation to take part in any election assessment mission.

Hence, it's clear why. What can they show to other countries?

How to falsify elections?

How to make elections on the internationally recognised territory of another state?

How to use hundreds of thousands of people to forcefully participate?

That is the idea of putting them on an election observation mission.

By the way, I am emotional, and we are emotional. Tell me, would you not be emotional if the territory of your country was occupied? If your neighbours were killed? If in your cities, it was another state that held elections?

That's what is going on with Ukraine. We don't need emotions, we need a reaction. Please do the smallest we can do.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:35:33

Thank you very much.

Mr Hişyar ÖZSOY wants to speak against it.

M. Hişyar ÖZSOY

Turquie, GUE

17:35:39

Thank you, Mr Chair.

I mean here, the logic and the structure of this argument is exactly the same as the previous two amendments. And if we are ratifying their credentials, this member of the delegation should have equal rights with the rest of members of this honourable Assembly.

Plus, I think it is important that here, I think the idea is not to punish or to retaliate but to follow some rules and also try to create meaningful dialogue, which actually structures the whole resolution.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:36:19

Thank you, Mr ÖZSOY.

What is the opinion of the Committee, Mr SEYIDOV?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:36:24

The amendment has been rejected.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:36:27

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed and I ask for the results to be displayed.

Amendment 14 is rejected.

I call Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK to support amendment 15. You have one minute, madam.

Mme Yevheniia KRAVCHUK

Ukraine, ADLE

17:37:26

Thank you.

By adopting this amendment we could make sure the assembly can make sure that "the ratification of the credentials of the Russian delegation by the assembley would in no way constitute recognition, even implicitly, of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation".

So, this amendment is the reservation of non-recognition of the annexation as stipulated by the United Nations legal framework.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:37:55

Thank you, Madame.

Does anybody wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr ÖZSOY.

M. Hişyar ÖZSOY

Turquie, GUE

17:38:03

Thank you, Mr Chair.

I think also Mr Piero FASSINO, during the Committee meeting, mentioned that we do not have any objection to the content of this particular passage, which I think, if I am not wrong, comes from the opinion of the Venice Commission on the issue, meaning that ratifying credentials does not mean recognising the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation so because this has been stated several times, in fact, Mr Piero FASSINO said seven times at least in many other documents, it is just not necessary.

So I am opposing for the sake of opposing this.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:38:46

Thank you.

Opinion of the Committee?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:38:50

Mister President, the amendment has been rejected.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:38:54

I now shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

May I ask for the results to be displayed.

Amendment 15 is rejected.

We now come to amendment 2. I want to draw your attention to the fact that the amendment 3, which will be taken shortly, relates to the same matter. And I'll call Mr SCHWABE to support amendment 2.

You have one minute, sir.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:40:14

I will take the one minute to try to explain the situation because there was a little bit of confusion in the Committee. In the end, this is just the kind of changing of paragraphs in the text to make the text more consistent in line with the rapporteur and in the end we just take something from paragraph 17.7 to paragraph 17.

This is just an exchange, in the end, the content is the same. We do not want to forget resolutions and again I urge – and we urge – the Russian Federation to act in line with this resolution.

So I ask you here to support this amendment but the consequence is to support later amendment 3 as well.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:41:02

Thank you very much.

The opinion of the Committee Mr Samad SEYIDOV?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:41:09

By a large majority the Committee...

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:41:11

Sorry, I made a mistake.

Mr MAIRE, you wish to speak against the amendment. The floor is yours.

M. Jacques MAIRE

France, ADLE

17:41:22

Thank you, Mr President.

In fact, it is not just technical. There are questions of political expediency in our debate, and the fact that we say that everything is technical means that, at the end of the day, we have a text that is soft and does not say much.

What is going on? For the past year, the number one issue for the world public opinion concerning human rights in Russia is, obviously, the arrest, imprisonment and poisoning of Mr Alexei Navalny. This is a major phenomenon, which has put the spotlight on the situation of political prisoners in Russia.

To make a specific paragraph about it the day after Mr Navalny was declared a terrorist and the same day we are discussing his poisoning is, in my opinion, an interesting and consistent political message. We do not have, on the one hand, the left hemisphere on the Navalny report and, on the other, the right hemisphere on the issue of powers.

That is why I thought it was totally appropriate to make a specific point.

 

 

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:42:21

The opinion of the Committee Mr Samad SEYIDOV?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:42:26

Mister president, I already said the Committee is by a large majority in favour of this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:42:32

And I shall put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

May I ask for the results to be displayed?

The Amendment is carried.

I call on Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS to support amendment 12.

You have one minute Sir.

M. Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lituanie, PPE/DC

17:43:51

Dear colleagues,

It's about the main item, about withdrawal of Russian army from occupied territories. The second paragraph of the statute of this organization,  I just have in front of me, is stating that peace is the key issue of Europe. And having in front our basic statutory obligation, I would like to ask you to vote in favour calling Russia to withdraw their army troops, not only from the frontiers but to withdraw from the occupied territories.

That's my amendment and thank you for those who in Monitoring Committee supported it.

Thank you so much.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:44:45

Thank you Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS.

Does anybody wish to speak against the Amendment?

I don't see anybody here or online.

What is the opinion of the Committee Mr Samad SEYIDOV?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:45:01

Mr President, by a large majority the Committee was in favour.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:45:05

I shall now put the Amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed.

I call for the results to be displayed.

Amendment 12 is carried.

I call on Mr Frank SCHWABE to support amendment 3.

You have one minute Sir.

M. Frank SCHWABE

Allemagne, SOC

17:46:03

Thank you very much, Mr President.

As I said before, this is just logic because we voted in favour of amendment 2, we should delete – we have double the sentences inside and I really ask the distinguished rapporteur for the Navalny report several times, knowing that we support him very much, not to give us any impression here that we do not take it seriously enough because, in the end, you lower your own opportunity to take it seriously. It is a very serious report. It is a very serious matter. It is just the question of how we structure the text and nothing else, please.

So I ask you to support this amendment 3.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:46:44

Thank you very much, Mr SCHWABE.

Anybody wish to speak against it?

I do not see any.

Mr SOBOLIEV, you have the floor.

M. Serhii SOBOLIEV

Ukraine, PPE/DC

17:47:00

Thank you. 

We discussed this in the Committee.

I think that it's not only the case of Mr Navalny or Mr Nemtsov, who was killed.

It's a case of thousands and thousands of people.

You know the first half of the fact, that Navalny was announced as a terrorist. But you must understand that all his anti-corruption organisation was announced as a terrorist organisation in Russia.

So I think that this item must be like a separate item. Our future discussion of a future resolution will only stress this.

So please, leave this item in this Resolution as a separate item.

Thank you.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:47:46

Thank you, Mr SOBOLIEV.

What's the opinion of the Committee?

M. Samad SEYIDOV

Azerbaïdjan, CE/AD, Vice-président de la Commission pour le respect des obligations et engagements des États membres du Conseil de l'Europe

17:47:51

Mr President, the Committee, by a large majority, is in favour of this amendment.

M. Tiny KOX

Pays-Bas, GUE, Président de l'Assemblée

17:47:58

Now I shall put the amendment to the vote.

The vote is open.

The vote is closed. May the results be displayed.

The amendment is carried.

I have received a message that Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS wants to withdraw amendment 5.

If any anyone else wishes to support this amendment, please, show.

If that is not the case we continue now to the vote on the draft resolution.

We will proceed to vote on the draft resolution as contained in Document 1544 as amended.

A simple majority is required to vote in hemicycle and via remote voting is open now.

The vote is closed. I call for the results to be displayed.

The resolution is carried.

That ends the debate on the Russian credentials.

Next item of business will be the report titled "Poisoning of Alexei Navalny" presented by Mr Jacques MAIRE on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.

And I now will change the presidency.

Débat : Empoisonnement d'Alexei Navalny

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

17:53:19

We shall begin, given the time.

The next item of business is the presentation of and debate on the report by Mr Jacques MAIRE, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, on the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

As we are due to adjourn at 7.30 p.m., we will have to interrupt the debate at about 7.10 p.m. to hear the reply from the Committee and to vote on the amendments and draft resolution.

The rapporteur has seven minutes to present his report and three minutes to reply to speakers at the end of the general debate.

I call Mr Jacques MAIRE.

M. Jacques MAIRE

France, ADLE, Rapporteur

17:54:53

Thank you, Madam President.

Dear colleagues,

I have the honour to present to you the draft report on the attempted poisoning of Mr Alexei Navalny.

Mr Navalny is a prominent opposition politician and anti-corruption activist. He has been in prison for more than a year because he failed to appear for his judicial review in Moscow – a review resulting from a conviction deemed unfounded in law by the Strasbourg Court. And for good reason: he was convalescing in Germany following an attempted poisoning in August 2020.

In August 2020, Mr Navalny was conducting an investigation in Siberia and meeting with local opposition activists. On 20 August, he flew from Tomsk to Moscow. He became seriously ill during the flight. The pilot then made an emergency landing at Omsk airport.

The pilot overrode the ban on landing at the Omsk airport, which was closed due to a false bomb threat. The doctors who rushed to the plane immediately realised that his condition was extremely serious and rushed him to the local hospital. He was placed in an induced coma, intubated and ventilated. If he had not been treated in Omsk, Mr Navalny would certainly have died.

What happened to Mr Navalny?

Now I come to the dissenting opinion of the Russian delegation attached to the report. It states, and I quote, "No traces of poison were found in Alexei Navalny's blood during his thorough examination in the hospital in Russia on 21 and 22 August (...). It was only after his samples were transferred to a Bundeswehr military medical facility that traces of a military-type chemical agent were suddenly discovered by the German military".

Our Russian colleagues would have us believe that if no poison was found in Mr Navalny's body, he was not poisoned. This is a poor manipulation. You know perfectly well, dear colleagues, that civilian doctors can identify poisoning - they do it every day. You also know perfectly well that civilian hospitals do not look for the complex molecules that cause poisoning – that is a matter for very specific techniques, for military laboratories specialised in chemical weapons. This is exactly what the report shows.

The day after Mr Navalny was hospitalised in Omsk, a medical plane arrived with the doctor in charge of the evacuation, Dr Jacoby. He immediately visited Mr Navalny in the hospital, examined him and took pictures. This testimony is crucial. It comes from a doctor trained to recognise the signs of poisoning. The findings were made on the spot in Omsk, in the hospital, only twenty-nine hours after the emergency landing of the plane.

Dr Jacoby immediately identified that Alexei Navalny showed all the characteristics of cholinesterase inhibitor poisoning of the organophosphorus type, which is easily recognisable as it is present in insecticides. Mr. Jacoby gave me access to these medical analyses and to the photographs he took of Mr Navalny in Omsk. This on-the-spot testimony destroys the hypothesis of a poisoning elsewhere than in Russia. The tests done on Mr Navalny at the Charité in Berlin also concluded that he was poisoned by organophosphates. This was detailed in an article in The Lancet.

Then we compared these medical analyses of Mr Navalny done in Omsk with those done in Berlin by Dr Eckardt, in the presence of Professor Eddleston, an international expert on organophosphate poisoning. All these comparisons lead to the same result.

Therefore, I solemnly affirm before you that Mr Navalny was poisoned in Russia: this is the conclusion that was voted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The Russian doctors are well aware of this truth, since the analyses examined show that they administered atropine to Mr Navalny in the hospital in Omsk. Atropine is the antidote for this poison.

It remained to characterise the substance used. For this, specialised laboratories in Germany, Sweden and France were called in, as well as two laboratories designated by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. This organisation, of which the Russian Federation is a member, is authorised to investigate suspected cases according to very strict protocols approved by Russia. These existing protocols were fully complied with by the OPCW. It concluded that the substance belonged to the Novichok family of poisons, which were found in the Salisbury poisonings in the United Kingdom. It did not of course reveal the chemical composition of the poison to avoid its dissemination.

The use of Novichok is prohibited by the Chemical Weapons Convention. In the event of non-compliance, the Convention requires Russia to investigate. States have tried to obtain information from Russia. They were met with angry denials and counter-accusations.

Then there was a Bellingcat investigation, which showed FSB officers following Mr Navalny around for years. This group was led by officers who were trained in chemistry, who were indeed frequently calling senior FSB officials at the time of the poisoning. And then there was the call from Mr Navalny to an FSB official, who confessed to him how the poisoning had been done, and this poisoning was used for other important political opponents such as Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Dear colleagues,

I had no mandate to conduct a police investigation. But our information concludes that there is a very strong suspicion of attempted murder. This implies the need for a full criminal investigation. There has been an administrative investigation. It gathered 100 pieces of information that could have evidential value. It was never followed by a criminal investigation.

I therefore urge you to support the findings on the origin of Mr Navalny's poisoning, and to support the recommendations of the report. The Russian authorities have an obligation to investigate the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, the use of Novichok on Russian territory and the possible involvement of the FSB. This responsibility derives from the European Convention on Human Rights, but also from the Chemical Weapons Convention.

In conclusion, I have tried to have a dialogue with the Russian authorities, starting with the delegation to the Assembly. I have always reflected the accurate position of the Russian authorities, based on official statements. But they have not made any move on this issue. They even classified Alexei Navalny as an extremist and terrorist agent just yesterday, on 25 January. Some might consider that yesterday's classification of Mr Navalny is a provocation by the Russians to our Assembly, but it shows, on the contrary, that it is an indirect tribute to our Assembly, because Russia felt obliged to react to our debate. It shows that our vote today is important for Alexei Navalny, as it is for all political prisoners.

As you can see, the tone of my report is very measured. The facts are so damning, the attitude of the Russian authorities so appalling, that they speak for themselves.

I thank you for your attention.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:02:46

Thank you, rapporteur.

In the general discussion, I now give the floor to Mr Michael Georg LINK for the ALDE Group. He is on the line.

M. Michael Georg LINK

Allemagne, ADLE, porte-parole du groupe

18:03:08

Hello Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

Our rapporteur Mr Jacques MAIRE has presented a detailed and well-researched report on the poison attack on Mr Alexei Navalny. I thank him very much for that. The report, once again, shockingly lays out why the case of Mr Alexei Navalny has sadly become so famous.

Having in mind our discussion which we had before also on the credentials, let me make one thing very perfectly clear:

Our criticism on several occasions also in the support of the Russian authorities is not a criticism of Russia as a culture, as a state, as a people.

We feel deep affection for the Russian people and culture, but this report outlines criticism of the acts or non-acting of the Russian authorities.

So our criticism is a reaction to what the authorities did or did not do.

Mr Jacques MAIRE, our colleague, made it perfectly clear that first of all the Russian government is not fulfilling its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe by neither investigating nor punishing the alleged use of chemical weapons.

In this regard the rules of the Council of Europe were not imposed on Russia from the outside, but Russia has committed herself to fully respect the European Convention of Human Rights and nothing less.

As the report also clearly outlines, the Russian government is clearly violating the European Convention on Human Rights by not admitting an independent investigation on the attack of Mr Alexei Navalny.

Dear colleagues,

I am appalled by the Russian authorities' approach to the person and case of Mr Alexei Navalny. For over a year Mr Navalny has been in a prison after being arbitrarily and blatantly unlawfully arrested by the Russian authorities.

An unparalleled campaign of repression is being waged against his person and his criticism of the Russian government.

Mr Navalny's credibility is constantly undermined, his physical integrity still threatened in prison, and his supporters are prosecuted.

And just yesterday, colleagues, just yesterday, the Russian authorities placed Mr Navalny on a controversial list of terrorists and extremists, a list that includes terrorists of the Islamic State.

Apparently in the eyes of the Kremlin leadership, which fears serious internal opposition, the standard procedure to equate serious opposition is calling them terrorists. That is simply not admissible.

Mr Alexei Navalny was threatened, silenced, poisoned and illegally arrested. He must be released immediately, as ordered by the European Court of Human Rights in February 2021.

The report therefore very clearly addresses the necessary points. I ask you to support it. My group, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), is very thankful to Mr Jacques MAIRE for having a very clear and outspoken report which is balanced and, let's say, very clearly full-term coming to a close.

Dear colleagues,

A Russian colleague asked me last year when I met him in Moscow why we take sides for Mr Alexei Navalny.

No, we take sides for human rights and we take sides for our Convention.

Thank you very much.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:06:42

Thank you.

I give the floor to Mr George KATROUGALOS for the Group of the European United Left.

M. George KATROUGALOS

Grèce, GUE, porte-parole du groupe

18:06:53

Merci Madam la Présidente.

It may seem like an anticlimax to discuss this item after the very spirited discussion we had regarding the credentials.

However I believe that the continuation of the discussion is very useful, because it helps us respond to the question of how we're going to treat Russia.

The answer is very simple – I could just refer to what Mr Piero FASSINO or Mr Frank SCHWABE have said – like all the other member States of our organisation.

That is to say, we demand full respect of our rules and the decisions of the court. We are not misusing rules like the rules of the credentials in order to expel Russia from our organisation.

It is not just out of respect for the rule of law that we have just decided that we are going to have a joint procedure with the Committee of Ministers in cases of serious violation. Of course rule of law is binding also for us, also in the substance.

Just imagine if a hostile Russia was completely expelled from all European organisations, especially this one, which is the guardian of rule of law of human rights, would it be better for its citizens or less of a threat for security in Europe? We are going to discuss that tomorrow during the current affairs debate.

I fully understand the weight of history and the threat that many neighbouring countries are feeling vis-à-vis Russia.

But history must be a school, not a prison.

Therefore, I think that this report is useful in our relations with Russia.

We have rejected with an able majority in the committee amendments that would give the impression that we want to interfere in the internal affairs of the Russian Federation.

For instance, those asking not for an independent investigation of the Russian authorities, but of Interpol.

I think this must be the message to the Russian authorities in general.

All members of this organisation should support their obligations and none would consider Russia to be out of it, but for reasons that have to do with its citizens, but also for reasons that have to do with the stability of the security architecture in Europe, but also of the respect of the legal culture, and the atmosphere of rule of law and human rights that we want to build in our organisation.

Many thanks.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:10:03

Thank you very much, sir.

I now give the floor to M. Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR, for the Socialist, Democrat and Green Group.

Mme Thórhildur Sunna ÆVARSDÓTTIR

Islande, SOC, Porte-parole du groupe

18:10:16

Thank you, Madam President.

Dear colleagues, first of all, I would like to thank Mr Jacques MAIRE for his detailed and thorough report on an issue that goes to the core of the purpose of the Council of Europe. It addresses the right to life, the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the principle of no punishment without law, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and the fight for the freedom of all political prisoners.

Furthermore, this report contains meticulous and detailed investigative work on the circumstances of the poisoning of Mr Navalny showing strong evidence for the possible culpability of the Russian authorities in this heinous act.

Moreover, regardless of whether or not we believe in the denial of the Russian authorities of their involvement in the poisoning, other facts are very clear and indisputable. Firstly, it is clear that the Russian authorities have so far completely failed to conduct an independent and effective investigation into the poisoning of Mr Navalny, which is their clear, legal obligation, not only according to the treaty on the prohibition of the proliferation of chemical weapons but also as a positive obligation stemming from Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Secondly, the report correctly points out that Mr Navalny is still being detained on grounds that have been found incompatible with the convention. And further, they have refused to release him despite the clear interim measure from the European Court of Human Rights instructing them to do so.

Finally, the report rightly recalls the numerous judgments of the European Court of Human Rights which found that earlier unlawful repressive actions of the Russian authorities had a chilling effect on Mr Navalny's political activities and were politically motivated with one judgment finding a violation of Article 18 of the Convention.

This leads me to my conclusion, Madam President, wherein I wish to state clearly that the Assembly's involvement in Mr Navalny's case will not end with the implementation of this report. I will personally follow the developments in Mr Navalny's case with regard to his imprisonment on political grounds in the exercise of my mandate as rapporteur on political prisoners in Russia.

Regrettably, the Russian delegation refused entrance to Mr Jacques MAIRE in the exercise of his mandate, which is in direct contravention of their obligation as members of this Assembly. I hope I can count on all of you colleagues to ensure that they will allow me to visit Russia in the exercise of my mandate.

And finally, of course, I call on all of you to adopt this excellent report from Mr Jacques MAIRE.

I thank you for your attention.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:12:55

Thank you, Madam.

I now give the floor to Ms Ingjerd SCHOU for the EPP Group.

Mme Ingjerd SCHOU

Norvège, PPE/DC, Porte-parole du groupe

18:13:02

Thank you Madam President and dear colleagues.

The Assembly has been following closely the case of Alexei Navalny since he was poisoned in August 2020.

On behalf of the Group of the European People's Party, I would like to thank Mr Jacques MAIRE for his report. It clearly explains the line of events that took place following the poisoning of Mr Navalny.

At the same time, he is very clear on what we expect from Russia in regard to fundamental and basic rights in this case.

Russia must, Madam President:

- Fulfil its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, including complying with the interim measure of the European Court of Human Rights, and immediately release Mr Navalny from prison.

- Russia must fulfil its obligation under other international conventions. More specifically in the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

- We expect of Russia, as a member of the Council of Europe, to respect and to promote the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association for all citizens, including Mr Navalny.

In our previous debate on the case of Mr Navalny in April last year, I expressed my sincere hope that Mr Navalny would have been released by then, and that our calls for freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, had been heard. It is clear that my hopes were in vain.

Since then a Moscow court has labelled Mr Navalny’s organisation as an extremist group. And just recently, the Russian supreme court ruled the closing down of Memorial, the oldest and most prominent human rights organisation in Russia.

It is clear, Madam President, that the crackdown on rights activists, independent media, and opposition supporters only continues.

Madam President, poisoning and arresting members of the opposition, closing down human rights organisations, is not the way to build a strong, sustainable and democratic society. The way to build a strong, sustainable and democratic society is through transparency and open political dialogue.

Such dialogue will mean critical voices, sometimes even harsh. But open political dialogue, Madam President, always respects the important role and work of the opposition, activists and critical media.

This is what recognises a genuine democracy. It both appreciates and encourages critical voices on the actions of the authorities. Society cannot thrive when the many voices of its people cannot be heard.

Thank you Madam President.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:16:08

Thank you, Ms. SCHOU.

I now give the floor to Mr. Oleksii GONCHARENKO for the Conservative Group.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD, Porte-parole du groupe

18:16:15

Thank you very much, Madam President.

First of all, many thanks to Mr Jacques MAIRE, the rapporteur, for his magnificent work and his very important report. Thank you and thank you to the secretariat of your committee.

I will now continue in Russian because I would like the Russian colleagues to listen to me.

M. Oleksii GONCHARENKO

Ukraine, CE/AD, Porte-parole du groupe

18:16:34

I am certain that Russians would like for Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Vrubel, Tchaikovsky, for those to be the face of Russia, and for Russia to be associated with them, and not with Mr Alexei Navalny.

It's quite clear that's not what the situation is.

Mr Vladimir Putin is the face of Russia, he is the person that kills. He has become one of the richest people in the world. He has drawn together the colossal resources of that country for his benefit.

Let's not forget that people in Russia make an average of 153 euros per month - 153 euros per month! People have been reduced to a situation of poverty. In Ukraine, where the situation is considered to be bad, it's over 200 euros per month.

At the same time we're waging war, blood is being shed in our country, and at the same time we don't have the resources that you have, that Russia has. The resources that you have are absolutely phenomenal.

What's going on in Russia right now is absolutely unique in history actually: the building of palaces on the one hand by the very, very rich and privileged, and other people reduced to absolute misery. At the same time there is blood and war being waged by this country. How much longer are people going to put up with this?

Now Mr Alexei Navalny who fought corruption - he is being called a terrorist, a killer - now is sitting in prison.

Mr Alexey Miller, the head of Gazprom, who has amassed incredible wealth in the country, is being called a hero of the nation. What shame, and what poor judgment. This cannot continue.

The important thing to understand is that this is a destructive path, destroying Ukraine, destroying the young people of Ukraine. Shedding blood is totally unacceptable. At the same time, young people in Russia are suffering and their blood will be shed as well. This is unacceptable.

I think it has to be understood that empires and the heads of empires, autocratic rulers, do not survive in history. It all ends very, very poorly for them.

This is Russia under Mr Vladimir Putin.

This is a shameful situation, and nobody in Europe or anywhere else will be able to change the situation in Russia.

It is in your hands, Mr Putin, and you must change the country and the situation which prevails there now.

Thank you.

 

 

 

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:19:21

Thank you.

I continue the general discussion.

I call on Mr Kimmo KILJUNEN, for Finland.

M. Kimmo KILJUNEN

Finlande, SOC

18:19:34

Madam President, first of all I would like to thank you.

Sorry, but I cannot breathe, I must do it that way. I really have a breathing problem. Let's try to, but I do really have problems. Even doctors know it, and sorry.

Madam President,

We have had an interesting debate. The previous item and this one important issue we are discussing about Russia. We are discussing the credentials, there are lots of emotions from those involved, we can say, and also rational argumentation. This is a very important report in our hands concerning the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Fair enough to say that the minimum is that we have an independent international inquiry to investigate this case as a whole. That would help the discussion very much also here today. Concerning the other issue of the credentials, we just agreed Russia is now fully participating in our Assembly work, the basic argument was, and I was fully supporting the argument, is that dialogue is needed.

We need a platform to discuss openly. All participants and states from Europe can be part of these discussions. Here we try via dialogue, consultation, to discuss mutally, resolve the problems instead of really trying to isolate somebody. Obviously, as has been stressed very many times, there are also commitments and obligations when you are part of these organisations concerning human rights, concerning democracy, and concerning the rule of law.

The basic principle of yours which we have just now discussed is the freedom of expression and association. That means political pluralism.

Here are two points which I would like to say.

In any country the place to express different opinions is the parliament. If one puts a political opponent, like this case Navalny, into prison, that tells the weakness, not the strength of those in power. That is absolutely the case.

Second point, it is important also to recognise that we are open with our past, our noble history. If we prefer white pages in our history, it indicates that we still have unsolvable problems. The closing of the famous human rights organisation Memorial in Russia is very telling. That means that in Russia's and the Soviet Union's history there are still big problems that society and those in power are afraid to analyse openly. That also means at the same time that those problems are kept as a part of the political reality of today. That's a very unfortunate situation in this case.

Thank you.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:22:58

Thank you, Sir, for your cooperation.

I now give the floor to Mr Dimitrios KAIRIDIS, who is on the line, for Greece.

M. Dimitrios KAIRIDIS

Grèce, PPE/DC

18:23:13

Thank you.

Thank you, Madam President.

As you say, I come from Greece, a country with a very long, a very strong and a very deep relationship with Russia and the Russian people. My father was born in Russia back in 1925 in the Black Sea coastal town of Tuapse. He was part of the big Greek diaspora community of Russia. Therefore, I speak to you as a friend of the Russian people, and as such, I have a very simple message to deliver: free Alexei Navalny. Free him now without any further delay. Stop this mockery of justice that provokes the consciousness of every free citizen of Europe and the world. Russian authorities seem to have got it completely wrong and vice-versa. There is a victim and the victimiser. It is absolutely absurd to punish the victim, to put the victim – Alexei Navalny – into jail and to keep the victimisers, those who attempted this despicable act of assassination and the plotters behind the attempt free while you imprison the victim. It goes against, not only our morals, it goes against our logic and it runs against the very core mission of our venerable institution, the Council of Europe.

I do not know which is one to "admire" most: the audacity of the act, the stupidity of the plot, the mal-execution and what went on after that and the offending behaviour of Russian authorities, offending all of us ever since by imprisoning and keeping Navalny in detention.

It is high time to put an end to this charade of justice, to free Navalny now without any pre-condition or delay. The issue will not go away. Again, as I said it runs contrary to the very mission of the Council of Europe. there is a proliferation of such cases recently – Osman Kavala from Turkey is another one. They cannot be forgotten, they cannot be sidelined, they will be here as a stain for the countries that behave like that and for us all to stand up to this kind of behaviour

Thank you very much from Athens.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:26:25

Thank you, Sir.

I now give the floor to Mr John HOWELL from the United Kingdom.

M. John HOWELL

Royaume-Uni, CE/AD

18:26:32

Thank you Madam President.

I wish I was like Mr Oleksii GONCHARENKO, and I could simply speak in Russian at this point. But I speak very poor Russian (in Russian) and I have to speak in English.

I have come to know Mr Jacques MAIRE a little over the last few months, and I am not at all surprised by the excellence of this report.

This place creates strange bedfellows at times, but I agree with almost everything that the representative, the group's spokesman for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe said.

So while this is a good report the story that it tells is one of the saddest that I have heard here. It's one that shows the Russian Federation in the worst possible light.

I congratulate the rapporteur, but one of the central themes that comes out of this report is that the Russian Federation should launch an independent and effective investigation.

I have two questions that relate to that.

The first question is how can we imagine that the Russian Federation will launch an independent investigation?

I wonder whether the rapporteur has an idea of how that can be arranged, and how the independence of that can be assured.

The second question I have relating to it is a question of how soon they will have to report. Because at the moment, they could take forever to report on the situation with Navalny, and we do not want that. We want them to report very quickly, and I think a time should be put on that.

Mr Navalny is not the first person to be poisoned in Russia. I don't just refer to the examples that occurred in the United Kingdom. I also know of a Russian dissident who has been poisoned twice in Russia. But, this is one of the worst cases, and the reference to him being classed as a terrorist is absolutely disgraceful, and we should protest against that.

The rapporteur lists the symptoms that occurred. I'm not going to go through them. But what he has described, as he himself says, is a sophisticated and toxic nerve agent.

Now we've set out clearly, I think, the human rights issues here, and I don't want to go into those in any detail. But human rights is essential to understand in this context. It's essential to put them first if we are to maintain the position of this Council in relation to human rights across the world and particularly in Europe.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:29:44

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

I now give the floor to Mr André GATTOLIN, from France.

M. André GATTOLIN

France, ADLE

18:29:51

Madam President,

Dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to congratulate Mr Jacques MAIRE very warmly for his report and his thorough investigation. I knew Mr Jacques MAIRE as a diplomat, I find him an investigator of great scope and I welcome the critical tone of his report.

However, I would like to go further and be firmer as Russia, against the background of any opposition to the government, decided yesterday to put Alexei Navalny - and not only him - on the list of terrorists and extremists.

What Mr Jacques MAIRE's report proves is that Alexei Navalny is a victim, a victim and the Russian Federation refuses to proceed to carry out any serious investigation on what happened; he is a victim and a victim condemned following a most incredible trial, that of the Yves Rocher affair - and, moreover, one should ask oneself the question of the responsibility of this French company in this context. He has been sentenced to a punishment, an exorbitant punishment, a terrible punishment, in-humane treatment that does not respect any of the conditions of convicted persons and prisoners that are linked to countries that have signed the European Convention on Human Rights. Today we have the impression that we are living in absurdity, in the land of the absurd.

So, our Ukrainian colleague Mr. Oleksii GONCHARENKO referred to Dostoyevsky, to a whole bunch of artists; I think today of Mikhail Bulgakov. We are in the absurd. The absurdity is that after a while, in order to justify an undue and disproportionate punishment, the charge is increased and Mr Navalny is made to look like a terrorist or an extremist. I believe that the Russian people, the Russian Federation itself has suffered a lot from terrorism, knows what terrorism is, to understand that you cannot mix the two terms, you cannot change things.

In a state governed by the rule of law, in respect of the rules, whatever the scale of sanctions, there is a fundamental principle, which is that of proportionality. Here, there is no proportionality, since the judgment is being changed, since it is now being said: "he is an extremist and he is a terrorist, so we can, if not condemn him to death, condemn him to life".

So we say: it is absolutely necessary today to ask for the immediate and unconditional release of Alexei Navalny.

Thank you very much.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:32:53

Thank you, Mr President.

I will now call on Mr Aleksandr BASHKIN and ask Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO to connect.

Mr BASHKIN from the Russian Federation, please.

M. Aleksandr BASHKIN

Fédération de Russie, NI

18:33:05

Thank you very much. 

Esteemed colleagues, first of all, allow me to inform you that the Russian delegation with regard to this particular point has a very special and particular view about this report, the preparation running up to it, the tone, is of great concern as well. 

The Russian delegation will not get into a discussion following the presentation of this particular report and I simply wanted to present you a summary of our position. 

The Assembly, as a respected international organisation, cannot go beyond its set international boundaries of authority or transform itself into a prosecuting judicial structure. We are parliamentarians and we have no authority to indict, judge and determine guilt. Clarifying the circumstances of this incident is to be done within the mechanisms of international co-operation. 

We are parliamentarians and we are not, once again, in a position to issue this type of judgment. 

Now, let me just say that Mr Jacques MAIRE's report is bristling with accusations and formulations which we are very disappointed with. We are disappointed with the position adopted and the tone of the rapporteur. The government of the Russian Federation made numerous requests to the German authorities, requests for information which was necessary to clarify the criminal character of this indictment. And in response, we received indistinct responses to medical confidentiality or non-desire of the patient for the transfer of medical information and details. 

Colleagues, Navalny's request for medical details not to be passed onto the Russian authorities is an indication in itself of the intent to impede the Russian government from proving its innocence. But how is one to understand the position of the German legal judicial authorities or their colleagues in other countries? And in what legal system and in which criminal investigation is the desire for a particular individual a determining factor? Where there are no political aspects colouring relations, judicial authorities co-operate wonderfully. The most recent example, just two days ago, German authorities handed over two Russian individuals engaged in criminal activities and this was following Russian prosecutors' requests. For this, we thank the Federal Republic.

Colleagues, do not think that we are impassive to the fact that when abroad, a Russian citizen was found to have a dangerous substance in his blood. First of all, we are all talking about a Russian citizen and more than all others, we want to clarify and to know what the truth is. And that for which an attempt is being made to accuse the Russian government of not conducting a proper investigation, well, it all defies reason altogether as the accusers are blocking access to information in a politically charged climate.

And finally, the political motives and anti-Russian character and pressure being exerted on the Russian government with statements like, "stop political repression", "involve civil society", well actually, where is Navalny in that entire picture and these statements?

We too want to know what the truth is. We need co-operation. We want transparency and we want to work together by the way. 

Thank you.

 

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:36:28

Thank you, Mr President.

Ms María Valentina MARTÍNEZ FERRO is still not online, so I give the floor to Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ from Switzerland.

M. Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ

Suisse, SOC

18:36:40

Thank you Madam Vice-President.

It's good timing, I'm speaking just after Mr Aleksandr BASHKIN. I just wanted to say that I was not convinced.

Congratulations to Mr Jacques MAIRE, I am going to talk about medicine, cynicism and morality. A very scientifically and medically sound report, Mr MAIRE, and very clear. It is a pleasure for me: it reminds me of my pharmacology classes and, really, things seem to be clear and lucid.

As a doctor, I would like to challenge a medical practice that is said to have taken place in Russia in the hospital in Omsk. No, a disturbance of the carbohydrate balance, i.e. a hypoglycemia or diabetes problem, is not treated with atropine.

You will understand that I want to make a joke of the inconsistencies provided by the Russian authorities and I would like to say, in fact, that Mr Navalny was treated in Omsk by excellent doctors who certainly saved his life and treated him properly for poisoning: intubation, assisted ventilation and atropine. Then an invisible hand apparently forced these same doctors to officially announce that Mr Navalny had a problem with his blood sugar levels – but the tests showed that the sugar was normal. I find this very interesting.

You know, dear colleagues, there are countries that present themselves as democracies; their political system has the name of democracy, the colour of democracy, the taste of democracy, but it is not really democracy. I would call it democratic formalism, and in these countries anything is possible, even putting pressure on honourable citizens.

Now let us talk about cynicism. Dear colleagues, the report of Mr Jacques MAIRE is clear, the evidence is obvious: Mr Navalny was the victim of poisoning by a cholinesterase inhibitor - Novichok, certainly. An investigation is needed, it is not debatable. However, our Russian colleagues, Russia, refuse to accept the evidence. And I had a very bad experience watching a scene on television where the President of that country was asked what he thought about this story. He said with a sneer that "if the Russians had done it, Mr Navalny would no longer be alive". End of quote, end of comment: this is mentioned in my colleague's report.

Morality now: Mr Navalny almost died; he spent many weeks in a coma in intensive care. After his stay in Germany to continue his treatments, he returned to his country and was immediately arrested on arrival. The reason – incredibly – was the failure to regularly report to honour a former suspended sentence, a sentence that had in any case been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights, a minor offence. So, a contested conviction and, in fact, a situation that brings him before a court that decides to revoke the suspended sentence and imprisons him for more than two years in what I will call "the gulag".

No compassion, no pity for a man who had as an excuse for not having presented himself at his reviews the fact of being between life and death for weeks. This is shameful. Nowhere else would this be possible: a pardon would be imposed automatically, given the obvious excuse that Mr Navalny had.

I therefore ask for his release.

Thank you.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:40:21

I now give the floor to Mr Emanuelis ZINGERIS from Lithuania.

Mr ZINGERIS.

M. Emanuelis ZINGERIS

Lituanie, PPE/DC

18:40:33

Madam chairman, dear friends.

We just finished our discussions about Russian credentials.

So, Russian credentials. Some of you voted in favour, to approve Russian credentials. The same people from Russian delegation just ten minutes ago tried to whitewash the case of Navalny when German and other Swedish labs and all authorities in the civilized world approved that he was poisoned deliberately with the military poison created in the military labs of Russian Federation.

So, the results of Bellingcat clearly declared that he was followed by FSB agents in Russia during 24 hours. The same happened with the previous leader of Russia opposition Boris Nemtsov.

So you voted in favour of Boris Nemtsov report here in the chamber and the Russian Federation and delegation withdrew themselves from being here in the chamber. Now they're boycotting again the second leader of Russia opposition, Mr Navalny, and his case. That is the time to say "enough is enough". Well, the government of Russia is actually one by one annihilating the leaders of opposition and destroying thier parties.

Mr Jacques MAIRE, thank you, thank you so much. You should remind to everyone that the party system in Russia was destroyed during last year. The group of Navalny – not only Navalny himself, but the organization of Navalny – was destroyed, and we have in Vilnius the headquarters and deputy of Navalny who is now Leonid Volkov and his headquarters are now saved by Lithuanian intelligence and defended by Lithuanian security, they are working from Vilnius.

So in this case, what more can be done if the government through the intelligence of Russia is hunting their opposition members for years and years, like Litvinenko, and poisoning them, by their secret labs creating poisons in all the world, and I would like to mention the Litvinenko case too. 

So, from my point of view, a critical mass of evidences of crimes against democracy inside of Russia is reached now. I would like to express probably from my delegation, from a lot of members, our huge thankfulness to Mr Jacques MAIRE for absolutely balanced, deeply balanced, neutral and fruitful report.

Thank you, Jacques, thank you.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:44:02

Thank you, Sir.

I now give the floor to Mister Rustem UMEROV from Ukraine, who is on the line. I will ask Mr Stéphane BERGERON to be ready.

Mister UMEROV.

 

M. Rustem UMEROV

Ukraine, ADLE

18:44:12

Dear Mr President,

Esteemed colleagues,

I would like to thank the rapporteur for the introduction to the report and the work that has been done.

Today Russia pretends to be a modern villain, and by all means tries to match this character.

The Kremlin has a long list of people killed for criticising the policies of Russia. Among them are politicians, journalists, and activists.

Just a few examples:

- The homicide of Anna Politkovskaya, who was writing about crimes in 2006.

- The death of Sergei Magnitsky in a correctional facility in 2009.

- The killing of Boris Nemtsov in 2015, who highlighted the corruption of Russian officials.

- And the attempt to poison Mr Alexei Navalny in 2020.

After tens of years there are no finished investigations that prove the Russian government is involved in those crimes. But the fact is, any Russian opposition member, sooner or later, becomes a victim of the regime.

Another fact is that Russia is actively attacking opponents of the regime in other Council of Europe member states.

In 2017, Denis Voronenkov, a former member of the Russian state Duma, was assassinated in the centre of Kiev. He was criticising, was forced to flee Russia to Ukraine and seek political asylum.

The same in 2017: a car bomb in the centre of Kiev killed at Ukrainian Major-General of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Maxim Shapoval.

What is even more worrying in my opinion is the fact that such attempts are more often made with the help of toxic chemicals.

For example, in 2006, former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, an active critic of the regime was poisoned with Polonium-2010 at a hotel in London.

In 2018, there was an attempt to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia with Novichok.

In most cases, the involvement of Russian special services in crimes has been proven. Their names are known. However, Russia is refusing to bring them to justice.

Russia poses a significant threat to the peace, stability, and security of the entire democratic society by its aggressive policy.

I therefore call on the esteemed international community to support today's resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly as a step towards combating Russia as a greater danger in Europe.

Thank you very much.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:47:13

Thank you.

I would now like to call Mr Aleksander POCIEJ from Poland but I do not see him. He is not here.

In that case, I would like to ask Mr Stéphane BERGERON from Canada to take the floor.

Online, please.

M. Stéphane BERGERON

Canada

18:47:41

Dear Colleagues,

Having the opportunity to speak about Mr Navalny again, I wish I could have taken a more optimistic tone than I did last April, both about his fate and about the human rights situation in Russia more generally. But on 17 January 17, had to mark the first anniversary of his arrest.

This sad commemoration allowed us to take stock of the many ways in which Mr. Putin's regime has continued to restrict freedom of thought, expression and assembly over the past 12 months. There was, of course, the dismantling of Mr Navalny's organisations, such as the Anti-Corruption Fund, and their absurd designation as terrorist groups. Mr Navalny's case was, unfortunately, not unique. The forced closure of the NGO Memorial International, after decades of work documenting past crimes, and its Human Rights Center, reminds us that there is little space for critical thinking in modern Russia.

That is why it is absolutely essential that the international community do its part to help document the facts. This is precisely what Mr Jacques Maire has done in his report on the poisoning of Mr Navalny.

While I fully support the recommendation that Russia fulfill its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights "by initiating an independent and effective investigation," the Kremlin is unlikely to follow through.

As Navalny's chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, told the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, on which I sit, last May, "things are moving slowly" in Russia. He added, however, that the internet remains "relatively free" in Russia, and that young Russians, unlike their elders from the communist era, "have been able to travel to Europe to see how democracy works and what their society could be like in a democracy".

As we anxiously watch the tensions on the borders of Ukraine, which has chosen the path of democracy wholeheartedly, we simply dare to express the hope that the Russian government's resistance to democratic progress will not extend, once again, to its unfortunate neighbor.

Thank you for your attention.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:50:10

Thank you.

So, I am told that Mr Aleksander POCIEJ is online. Is that the case or not? Very well, then he must ask for the floor. Mr POCIEJ, you can ask for the floor. For Poland.

There is a problem, so we will move on and come back to him.

Ms Yevheniia KRAVCHUK from Ukraine, it is your turn. She is not here.

We continue with Mr Pablo HISPÁN from Spain. Not here either?

Online, can Ms Maryna BARDINA from Ukraine connect? If so, Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN should be ready next.

Is there anyone there?

Then we start with Ms Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN.

Ms VIROLAINEN from Finland, you have the floor.

Mme Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN

Finlande, PPE/DC

18:51:34

Dear Madam President, Dear Colleagues,

I'd like to thank Mr Jacques MAIRE for the great work he has committed to this report. It portrays the events and investigation of poisoning of Mr Alexei Navalny very widely and clearly.

The report finds that the poisoning of Mr Alexei Navalny was done by using a toxic nerve agent produced in a Russian state lab. The evidence shows that Mr Alexei Navalny's symptoms did not occur due to low blood sugar levels. What we are talking about here is poisoning a prominent opposition leader with a strong voice for change. Poisoning such a person is not a random, but an intended act of hostility. This is done to cause serious, even ultimate, harm to the victim's health. The explanation for such an act is the will to silence Mr Alexei Navalny. Cancelling a person from expressing an opinion is a violation of human rights: the right to freedom of thought, opinion and expression.

Anyhow, this poisoning is not only about silencing the single loudest dissonant voice at a particular moment. It is also directed to silence any similar ones in the future. People willing to voice their experiences are all but encouraged to do so if they want to avoid the consequences of being being poisoned, thrown into prison, and listed as terrorists. These manoeuvres have nothing to do with promoting freedom of thought, opinion and expression. It's vice-versa.

Dear colleagues,

As long as the object responsible for the poisoning remains unconfirmed, we have no other options than to look at the evidence in front of our eyes. This report gives us that.

What the fate of Mr Alexei Navalny shows us is an attempt to deny civil society from its right to voice an opinion safely. This right is a principle that concerns everyone, no matter the location. Denying this right is contrary to the values we stand and fight for as Europeans.

I welcome the report's proposal of calling the Russian Federation for an independent investigation both on poisoning Mr Alexei Navalny and on the use of chemical weapons on Russian territory.

These steps, in addition to the technical assistance visits to Russia, are needed to get this issue resolved.

Thank you.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:54:35

Thank you, Madam.

I am told that Mr Aleksander POCIEJ is online: you ask for the floor and I give it to you. It is your turn.

M. Aleksander POCIEJ

Pologne, PPE/DC

18:54:49

Thank you very much, Madam President.

I congratulate you for overseeing such amazing subjects.

I especially wanted to thank Mr Jacques MAIRE because I know that his work was not easy. He did it in an excellent way. I know that he was attacked from all sides but I believe that he did it in an extraordinary way: once again, Mr MAIRE, I congratulate you for this very difficult work.

I wanted to talk, in two or three words, about the legal system in Russia. Some of us, when I was listening to our colleagues, were asking that the justice system clarify this situation. Unfortunately, I have my doubts. Today, our Russian colleague who said: "Listen, the problem of Memorial is not political, it is the legal system that has decided". I have great doubts about the legal system of the Russian Federation.

First of all, I do not think that the problem of Memorial has nothing to do with politics: it was not a completely free judgment. At the same time, I wonder whether the Navalny case will be solved by the Russian legal system.

This brings me to the third topic, which is: can we say that the elections in Russia are free? This is a rhetorical question, but is there any management, outside of political management, that could question the way democratic elections are organised in Russia?

Thank you very much.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

18:57:52

Thank you, Mister Chairman.

I now give the floor to Mr Raivo TAMM, from Estonia.

You have the floor, Mister TAMM.

M. Raivo TAMM

Estonie, PPE/DC

18:58:02

Madam President, Dear Colleagues, Rapporteur,

Last week marked one year since the arrest and imprisonment of Russian opposition leader Mr Alexei Navalny. He was returning to Russia from life-saving medical treatment in Berlin, which followed an assassination attempt on Russian territory by a chemical nerve agent of the Novichok group.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time Novichok, a military-grade nerve agent, has been used against people whom Russia perceives as adversaries. The 2018 attack against Mr Sergey and Ms Yulia Skripal on British soil shows that there is a repetitive pattern here.

The prosecution of Mr Navalny was clearly politically motivated and is another proof of how the Russian legal system continues to be instrumentalised.

Estonia calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Navalny without further delay. Let me remind you that the European Court of Human Rights has made its ruling, calling the original detention of Mr Navalny arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable. This means Russia's actions are in even greater conflict with its international commitments.

As a neighbour of Russia, Estonia follows with concern the increasing moves to create an atmosphere of fear in Russia, and considers respecting human rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, as well as rule of law, the only possible solution.

In this context, we deplore the decisions by two Russian courts to forcibly close International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Center. For more than 30 years, Memorial has fulfilled a unique role in documenting historical crimes and the memory of the tens of millions of victims of political repression in Russia.

The claim by the Russian authorities that Memorial Human Rights Center's principled and peaceful work “justifies extremism and terrorism” cannot be accepted. Memorial’s work has never been more needed.

We must once again urge the Russian authorities to stop the unabated crackdown on civil society and independent media.

Thank you.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

19:00:42

Thank you, Sir.

I now have on the line Ms Maryna BARDINA, who has finally been able to connect. I will give her the floor right away.

Madam BARDINA, from Ukraine, you have the floor.

Mme Maryna BARDINA

Ukraine, ADLE

19:00:54

Dear president, dear colleagues,

I am sorry for my technical problems with the Kudo system.

The imprisonment and detention of Russian opposition leader Mr Alexei Navalny was not just a singular assassination attempt, but another expression of disrespect for democratic values and human rights by Russia.

I'm thankful to the rapporteur for presenting this essential document. This report focuses on several violations committed by the Russian authorities:

Firstly, systematic violations of the right to life and the right to freedom of expression.

Secondly, the failure to abide by the prohibition against torture and cruel inhuman or degrading treatment given the nature and effect of the Novichok nerve agent.

The detentions, politically motivated persecutions of public figures, representatives of national minorities and journalists is a common practice for Russian authorities.

These actions contradict Russia's international obligations and the human rights agreement, of which the Russian Federation is a part.

All opposition-minded people in the Russian Federation and the occupied territories are at risk of repression and murder.

As we know, Russia's repressive machinery abuses anti-terrorism legislation to misrepresent the systematic political persecutions of Crimean Tatars.

Russia has continued to illegally hold by force more than 100 citizens of Ukraine in the occupied Crimea and on the territory of the Russian Federation on political grounds, amongst whom at least 82 are Crimean Tatars.

Unfortunately these people are not mentioned in international debates as often as could be, yet all of them are also illegally detained by the Russian authorities and put in prisons and basements against their will.

Ukraine demands that the Russian authorities immediately release all illegally detained political prisoners, including citizens of Ukraine.

To sum up, Mr Alexei Navalny's case is indicative in the sense that Russia is once against trying to falsify evidence and hide the traces of its crimes.

We must learn from history and act to put a complete stop to repression against the opposition civil society members and people of the occupied territories.

Dear colleagues, we must unite our efforts for a broad response to the crimes of the Russian Federation.

Thanks for your attention.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

19:03:36

Thank you, Madam ENGBLOM.

Now Ms Annicka ENGBLOM from Sweden is going to take the floor.

I would just like to tell Mr Uldis BUDRIĶIS, if he is online, to log in. This will be the next and last one.

Madam ENGBLOM, it is your turn.

Mme Annicka ENGBLOM

Suède, PPE/DC

19:03:53

Thank you, Madam President.

And dear colleagues of the assembly. Let me begin by wholeheartedly thanking the rapporteur, Mr MAIRE, for thoroughly and in a straightforward manner have him examined the case of the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and having determined the facts of the case.

I fully support the report of Mr MAIRE but I also support many of the amendments, especially number 1. And I totally side with Mr HOWELL that an unbiased Russian body of examining the case is not to be relied upon. It should be an outsider, as is suggested here in the amendment, for instance Interpol.

Madam president, [in Russian] I also speak Russian. I love Russian culture. I love Russia. I love my Russian friends. Russian culture. I like Russian literature, art, but, [in English] and I continue in English, I do strongly dissociate from its regime that deprives its citizens from freedom of speech, the right to know, the fundamental human and democratic rights, and steal its money.

A regime which hunts down, imprisons, poisons its journalists and leaders of opposition that dare to question its legitimacy, its high-level autocracy and corruption. A regime that unprovoked acts aggressively and invades its democratic neighbouring countries.

Anna Politkovskaya, Natalya Estemirova, Boris Nemtsov, Sergei Magnitsky, Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and finally Alexei Navalny. All of them have lived and drear these undemocratic movements of the Russian regime. This is a simple and sad truth that the Russian regime is making mockery of the democratic work of this esteemed assembly. And we are fully aware of this.

So, thank you again, Mr MAIRE, and I repeat what previous speakers of this assembly have said: the Russian authorities must, without any delay, release Alexei Navalny from detention along with the still imprisoned supporting him.

Thank you.

Mme Nicole TRISSE

France, ADLE, Présidente de l'Assemblée

19:06:48

Thank you, Madam.

I will end the list with Mr Uldis BUDRIĶIS from Latvia.

It is your turn, Sir.

M. Uldis BUDRIĶIS

Lettonie, PPE/DC

19:07:03

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Mr Jacques MAIRE, the rapporteur, you tried your best but, as we know, it does not really matter what we put forward since it does not really matter for the Russian delegation.

But colleagues, what happened an hour ago and what is happening now. Your colleagues gave the Russians the right to be here. You ratified them. This debate goes from Nemtsov, Litvinenko, Skripal until recent events.

Just have half an hour ago, the debate was on different grounds. Now everybody condemns Russia as an attacker. Now, one by one, everybody is condemning the case of Navalny. Condemning the crimes against civil society,  crimes against the opposition, crimes against the expression of thought, crimes against freedoms of speech as such, calling for this investigations, etc. The real question is: is this the real dialogue you were looking for?

Let's get to the point. Is it not a coincidence that the classification of Navalny and his team members as terrorists is carried out when the team released new proof of the wealth of the monarchy in Russia? I think it is self-explanatory.

Now I am sorry for their interpreters because I am speaking from the heart. I will continue in Russian because the Russian delegation does not listen otherwise.

M. Uldis BUDRIĶIS

Lettonie, PPE/DC

19:09:00

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