PACE President completes working visit to Moscow

Rene van der Linden, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has visited Moscow. He stressed that Russia has made good improvements in its 10 years with PACE.

The Russian Patriarch, Alexy II, congratulated the Assembly for its efforts in advocating human rights and freedoms. However, President Vladimir Putin has accused the European Court of Human Rights of being too political in its rulings.

Mr van der Linden once again urged Russian State Duma officials to drop a veto against changes to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Russia is the only signatory to the convention not to have yet ratified Protocol 14, which is intended to increase efficiency at the court. The State Duma Committee members believe it would weaken checks and balances on the work of the courts in Russia.

Nevertheless, Mr Van Der Linden sounded quite optimistic about the prospect of Russia ratifying Protocol 14.

“I can not imagine that Russia which has just fulfilled its successful chairmanship and played the important role in the Council of Europe; Russia, which took the lead in the discussion of intercultural and inter-religious dialogue; Russia, which supported the position of the Parliamentary Assembly even more than other member states last year, so, I can not imagine that Russia won't follow the other 45 member states of the PACE, finally. Therefore, I am very optimistic about Russia ratifying Protocol 14,” said the President of PACE.

Mr Van Der Linden also marked that “Russia has made a good improvement in the 10 years it's been with the Council, and I hope to see the situation improve more. But there are of course areas of concern to us, like the freedom of the press and the position of NGOs in Russia”.

There were also the emphasis on freedom of the press in the report, along with the spotlight on deaths of journalists in Iraq, and investigations of the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Head of the Demos Centre Tatyana Lokshina understands why the journalists' murder has been highlighted by Human Rights Watch.

“She was an international authority, so to speak, on matter related to Chechnya. Many in the West listened to her and respected her opinion. And so it was thought that she would be above something like this happening to her,” she said.

Overall, many human rights organizations in Russia agreed on the reports accuracy and relevancy – and hope that it will be taken into consideration by officials.